A guy named Joe

For the last several Sundays, despite homework and housework and other life constraints, I have managed to get my little self down to the beach in time for the sunset. It’s a personal goal each week. I’ve been known to skip my sacred Sunday nap.

Here’s what I need: my toes in the sand, to gaze at the clouds and admire the pelicans, to be reminded of how fortunate I am to live so close to such beauty. I need to remember that God meets me there each and every time.

Here’s what I pack: a bottle of water, a bottle of beer, some snacks and whatever book I’m currently digesting. Today’s picnic was a Blue Moon, a PBJ and some grapes which paired nicely with Rob Bell’s Love Wins. My chair and towel are already in the car (of course they are, you already knew that). After 6pm, it’s safe to skip the sunscreen.

Here’s what I avoid: people.* As in people with little kids running and screaming, people over-sharing their tunes, people that are congregated in groups of three or more, people running and throwing frisbees or footballs. Above all, I avoid people who are stupid enough to be  feeding the birds. Occasionally a friend will join me, but I am perfectly content with going solo.

*Disclaimer: I have roughly 200 conversations on Sunday mornings. I love being social, but enough is enough.

Here’s what I hope to gain: some peace, some quiet, some regeneration of my soul after pouring out all week. Between what I pack and what I avoid, this is pretty much a science, y’all. I’m a pro.

Me
+ the beach
– annoying people
= peace

Ahhhhhh… Sunday sunsets are just the best thing ever.

///

It is FINALLY warm enough to get in the water – thank you so very much. I know there are people who swim when the water is ridiculously cold here, you know, below 85 water temp. I’m pretty sure they are all from Canada. Or Minnesota. Same thing, really.

The water was SO clear, and it was just peaceful and lovely. I ventured out for the first time in months, this guy is meandering out in the water near me and we begin chatting. His name is Joe and he lives in Orlando and works for Disney. It was an easy conversation – life in Florida – taking advantage of where you live – all very surface and easy.

Then he commented on my tattoo (!) and I had a chance to share what it meant. Which then led into a conversation about Jesus and he confessed that he hated church and had zero interested in going. Which then led to us talking about how churches have really given Jesus a bad rap when they talk about hell and fear and messing up. It was super light, nothing weird or ugly or heated. It felt totally natural. We chatted for about fifteen minutes before I realized he was on the list of things to avoid (people). I exited the water gracefully and wished him a good weekend.

When I returned to my chair and refocused on the clouds, I realized what a total God moment that was. I had just “witnessed” to a stranger on the beach about Jesus. If you know me at all, that is the absolute LAST thing I would ever do. It has always CREEPED ME OUT when I have heard about Christians approaching strangers on the sidewalk and telling them about Christ. Weird. Combative. Totally not my style.

And yet there it was, a completely casual conversation that wound its way around to the Creator of the very beach we were on.

I have no idea what that was all about, but it was cool. I didn’t orchestrate it. I wasn’t seeking it out. I was just doing my usual Sunday beach thing.

///

Doesn’t that just seem like something God would weave together? Of all the people to cross paths randomly, of all the conversations that could have taken place… are you hearing the twilight theme song?

I have no idea what this guy named Joe will do or believe or think or feel – if anything – resulting from our conversation. Maybe it is simply that he will have an open viewpoint about Jesus, and somehow differentiate him from the church that has not always represented him very well.

That would be pretty awesome.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start some weird “witness on the beach” thing. Not a chance. I’m good with a beer and a book, thank you. But if someone asks me about my tattoo…I may have to share.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

 

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