As I write this, my family and I are on “holiday” at one of our favorite places in all the world…Oak Island, North Carolina. We love this place not so much for what it is, but rather for the memories it holds for us. My husband came here as a boy with his family. Many years later, he brought along a young girl who was absolutely smitten with him and would later become his wife. In turn, we have brought our own little ones over the years…visiting all our familiar spots, taking all the same pictures, and watching time do its bittersweet work as our children grow and change.
I always seem to find myself sentimental when we are here. I awake each morning counting down the days until it will be time to pack away the swimsuits, gather the last of the sea shells collected by four sets of hands, and say our traditional “goodbye” to the section of beach we have come to think of as our very own. I count down with a sense of dread, knowing that it will all come to an end far too quickly, and that next time we arrive, more time will have drifted as the sand does between my fingers and toes. My children will be older, more independent…I will be older, and our world will have changed.
Our time in this place always awakens something deep within me…a longing which yearns to have a voice but struggles to find the right words. It’s a longing for more…for a much more meaningful and permanent rest…one that could never be found here, even on this stretch of beach I have come to cherish. This longing is within all of us. We feel it when we hold our sleeping babies, or share a special moment with the one we love more than anyone else on earth. It takes our breath away when we look out over a beautiful landscape. It causes our hearts to swell as we listen to a glorious piece of music. All of these are like little windows into something more…something we reach for…something we were made for.
C. S. Lewis put it best when he said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
We treasure these moments here on earth because they whisper to us of something else, or rather, Someone else…like a sign on the road which points us to our hometown…the sign is special because of what it represents. The beauty of a sunset, the love between family, the notes of a magnificent piece of music—all of it is to be a sign, pointing us to the omnipotent God who created it all and to the true home He created us for. We must not waste these moments, or pursue them for themselves alone. Rather let us seek the Giver of all these things, the God who created us for Himself. And when we feel that familiar twinge of pain as we come to the end of our holiday or say goodbye to our little stretch of sand and surf, let us be thankful…thankful that our true rest is yet to come.
“You are our rest, Jesus. May this vacation serve Your holy purposes. May the deep enjoyment and the grand adventure of it stir within us eternal longings, whetting our anticipation of that best holiday celebration that will one day encompass all days, and all of heaven and all earth. Amen.” --Douglas Kaine McKelvey
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11