This morning I found myself in a randomly selected roadside church — or maybe I should say beachside church.
The small worship center, located in a town whose population is still harboring dreams of crossing the one thousand resident threshold, sits just off the road between the only two stoplights in town. A dozen cars are scattered around the elevated building. Pulling between two posts below the structure, I park my car and find my way inside.
Sitting down onto a seat on the back pew, I listen as the minister shares his words with the congregation. Dressed in a t-shirt and blue jeans, I’m not even sure he is wearing shoes.
“Today we’ve a baptism,” he says. “And isn’t that awesome?”
“Here is what is going to happen,” he said. “I’m going to go put on my bathing suit. We’ll all meet across the street on the beach for the baptism.”
Certainly words I’ve never heard from a minister standing behind the pulpit.
Minutes later our small group, maybe a dozen or so, are standing along the water’s edge as waves aggressively eat at the sand below our feet. Between the bright sunshine and churning waves, God is putting on a show.
The minster takes the hand of a young girl dressed in a white bathing suit. The girl then instinctively reaches with her free hand for her dad as the three begin walking into the waves. I look around at our small group. No one is wearing shoes as we prepare to see God welcome this young girl into his flock.
Nearby fishermen are casting into the surf. To our left two surfboards rest in the sand between sessions. I’m quite sure there is not a manmade cathedral as beautiful as the one this girl is about to experience.
The three of them stop and turn around about 20 yards into the surf. The minister and father say a few words – words we cannot hear for the soundtrack of waves crashing around our feet. And then, each with a hand behind the young girls head, the young girl leans back and is washed over by both the waves the moment.
I do not know the name of a single person standing on the beach at the moment but suddenly feel the warm sense of family fill my heart.
Applause breaks out from not only our small group, but from those around us.
It is moments like this, standing in front of one of God’s most beautiful and powerful creations, that I am reminded of what a humble role each of is to play in His plan. No matter what someone tells me or whatever happens to me, I am – much like the sand and water around me – just part-time player with very small role.
As the young girl returns to the shore I can see a spark in her eyes. She is cold on the outside, but warm from within.
It is then I look down and realize God is there — even in the sand between my toes.
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