We had left the building but we were still in our home state of North Carolina. Bill was prepared to work though the summer’s rental season at the real estate company he had worked at when we had moved to Sneads Ferry and I was living between three places: the beach, my parents home in Tarboro, North Carolina and in Nashville, Tennessee with my children. Bill had taken a one bedroom condo to share with his work pal, Mitchell and his bird, an African Gray, named Sweetie. Mitchell had the bedroom and Bill had the living room and an air mattress. They called it the “flop house,” and when I saw it for the first time, I understood why. It looked like someone had flopped down all their unwanted furniture there instead of putting it by the side of the road. It was ugly but it was on the ocean front, three stories up and had a glorious view. At night Bill and I could lay on the mattress by the sliding glass door, open it slightly and see the stars up above. With that and the relentless sound of the ocean’s surf pounding below, we had a little bit of heaven on earth, not to mention Sweetie asking us as we were falling asleep, “Hey, what are you doing?”
That was a really good question. I had asked myself that question dozens of times a day but to hear the bird ask it, freaked me out a little. It’s one thing to ask yourself the hard questions but when a bird wonders the same thing out loud to you, the question bounces around the room, slips out the sliding glass door, gets swept up by the ocean breeze, broods a bit over the deep, dark sea and then wafts upward towards the stars straight through Heaven’s gate, directly to the throne of God and takes on the form of a buzzing bee, whispering in His ear, “What IS Donna doing?”
Never let a bird ask you that question if you have doubts in your head already about your future. It’s natural to doubt yourself and your plans, even if you feel that God Himself gave you a specific plan or assignment. But that night, I could only imagine God getting up off of His mighty throne and looking down in my direction, his eyes spotting our heads by the sliding glass door as we tossed and turned on the air mattress, wondering to Himself, “What ARE they doing down there?” I finally fell into a restless sleep and dreamed I was swimming in the ocean and got pulled out into the rough sea by the strong undertow and God was standing on heaven’s edge, peering down to earth, shaking His head, hands on his hips, asking a little angel bird on His shoulder,”What is she doing? What IS she doing?”
I awoke the next morning determined to walk on the beach until God spoke to me. I had questions that needed answering. How do we begin to carry out the plan God gave us? How could we move to another state unless we had a financial plan in place (or money to finance the plan?) How could we get to Point A to get to Point B and achieve our destination? Plus, where would we live in Nashville? Would I ever be reunited with my furniture and beloved things? I was a woman on a mission to hear from God. I was getting nervous and a bit scared.
I was thankful the day was warm. I put on some workout clothes and tennis shoes and made my way across the wide beach and down toward the water. It was a weekday and the beach was deserted. ”Good,” I said, out loud. Just me and You, God! Me and You! I need for you to talk to me today. Give me a bit more of the plan!” I stretched and looked up into the milky blue sky, lifting up my arms above my head and continued to beseech the invisible force behind my dreams… “and I have got to know, what SHOULD we be doing? What should we do next?” I was shouting above the wind, looking out to where the heavens met the horizon for answers. I gave another look around to make sure no one was on the beach with me. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a crazy lady shouting at the ocean like a desperate woman. I rolled my shoulders, took a deep breath and began to walk toward the morning sun.
My hopes were high. The tide was out and rocks and shells blanketed the shore. I played my game with God. ”If you love me, Lord, you will let me find a piece of sea glass.” I know it sounds childish to play that kind of game with the God of the universe, but my insecurities were getting the best of me. I felt like a child. I stopped to look, my eyes looking for bits of flashing color amongst the sand and broken shells. I saw an emerald green piece catch the light and smile up at me. ”Oh, yeah, God. You DO love me don’t you?” I kissed my little proof of love and put it in my pocket and started looking for another piece. ”If You REALLY love me, You’ll let me find another one.” I know, that is really childish. But to understand the Kingdom of heaven, one has to become like a little child, although at that point, I was nothing more than a big baby! Soon, I had five pieces of sea glass jingling in my pocket, confident that God loved me but still uncertain of my future.
Two sea gulls swooped down in front of me and seemed to laugh at my unfinished plans. ”She’ll never get to where she’s going. What is she doing? She doesn’t know. Bahahahaaaa.” Reaching deep into my pocket, I pulled out my fist filled with the frosted glass and raised it at the squawking sea vultures and yelled, “See, He does love me and I know He has a plan for me!” I immediately felt a little silly. I was arguing with sea gulls. Was I in a cartoon? I still had not heard Him speak to me about our plans. I continued to walk trying to keep fear from rising up within me. Then, I knew that fear was a huge ocean swell coming toward me with the power to knock me off my feet and pull me out into the unsteady arms of the chilly sea.
“Wait a minute,” I reminded myself. Wasn’t it enough just to know that God loved me? Of course it was. He was for me and not against me. He was always standing up for me, beside his throne, His heart beating out of His Holy chest with concern, keeping His eyes riveted on me. He wasn’t going to let me fall or slip or destroy myself…
I was thinking on these things when I saw the little boy directly up ahead of me. He was about three years old, standing by the shore, floaties on both arms, goggles over his eyes looking down at the water. He was a few feet from the edge of the water and I noticed that he kept looking back at his mother, a few away from him. She had been keeping her on eye on him although I could not see her gaze. She had sunglasses on but watched his every move, anticipating what he would do next. He kept backing up from the water, never letting it touch his feet. Finally he turned and ran back to his mother.
She leaned over and put her arms on his shoulders and began walking slowly to the shore line with him. It was then that I walked directly by them and could not help but overhear what she told him. ”Honey, I don’t expect you to just jump in the ocean. It’s big and scary. All I want you to do is stand right by it’s side and let the ocean come to you. You don’t have to jump in. Let it come to you.”
I kept walking but turned to look at what they did next. They both stood and let a little wave of water come to their feet. The little boy giggled and his mom did too.
I turned away from them and started walking back the other way. I couldn’t believe that they were the only ones on the beach that morning except for me (and God, of course.) How did I manage to stumble across them at that exact, teachable moment? Was God standing up by His throne looking down at me shake my fist at sea gulls? Did he plant the boy and his mother in front of me to tell me something?
I believe He did. My plans at that moment seemed as big as the ocean and I didn’t know how to approach them. God wanted me to stand still and let His plan come to me. I didn’t need to be afraid of it.
I stopped by the water’s edge and decided to take off my shoes. I carefully picked my way across the sharp, broken shells and planted my tender feet side by side on the very edge of the North American Continent. I wondered if God was in His heaven, cheering me on, saying, “Let my plans come to you.” The water rushed over my feet and when it flowed backward, toward the deep sea, took my fears with it. What IS Donna doing? I smiled up into the atmosphere, letting the winds carry my gratefulness up to God. I was standing still. The ocean was tickling my toes.
Here’s your song….