It draws me out to look upon the awesomeness of its power. It calls me to dip my toes in, letting the waves cover my feet with sand. It invites me to swim in its deep waters allowing it to lift me up in the arms of its waves. In every way, the ocean represents Ke Akua to me and the grace he shows me… and shows you.
Ever since I was a young girl, as soon as I got to the beach, I was drawn like a magnet towards the ocean, my eyes holding fast to the powerful, unending waves. They scared me, and yet enthralled me.
When I was a teenager, I spent a week learning to surf…
- the rest of the story -
…in a swimming pool. The week concluded with one day in the ocean. The cove we were taken to ended in the waves crashing over large boulders. I gathered my courage, grabbed a board and began paddling out.
It took several tries, and I finally caught my first wave, but I couldn’t get to my feet. The wave was powerful, jetting me towards those boulders as I rode the board on my knees. I jumped off and turned my board, but wave after wave washed over me as I tried to work my way back out.
This experience reminds me a lot of one of my favorite songs, “Grace Like a Wave” that ran through my head when I was doing this painting.
The chorus goes:
“Grace comes like a wave
Crashing over me
Grace comes like a wave
Crashing over and over and over. “
Grace is sometimes thought of as being those words we say before we get to eat. Or we use it to refer to a person with beautiful flowing movement like a ballerina. But the grace in this song refers to something given to us by God that we haven’t earned nor deserve. It’s love. It’s acceptance. It’s forgiveness. It’s hope.
This song makes me remember those awesome, powerful waves I was fighting against that first day surfing, and how they just kept rolling over and over me. They were stronger than I was, and God’s grace is stronger than anything we can accomplish on our own.
But sometimes, the ocean is calm and turquoise blue with tiny little waves lapping at the sand. It calls to me and I can not resist kicking off my slippers and stepping into it. I let those lovely gentle waves wash over me, and it’s so refreshing.
I remember a scene in one of my favorite TV series, LOST. One character, who is always on the go, is just standing at the water's edge with waves washing around her feet. Another comes up and says “Well, this is a first. You standing still, in the middle of the day, doing nothing. Amazing!”
She answers him, “I’m doing something.”
“Yeah, what’s that?” he laughs.
“I’m sinking.” She answers.
I too like to stand and sink at the ocean's edge. I am such a “doer”, but when I get to the ocean I change. I am calmed as I stand at the water's edge, allowing the waves to suck the sand out from under my feet. It feels like I am being pulled, becoming one with the aina.
That’s what God’s grace is like. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it. But God sent his son Jesus to offer it to us anyway. He invites us, like the ocean invites me. We can stop all our doing and let it wash over us and it sweeps away our past, our failures, and our sins. It’s Grace that brings us into a place of being, united with Ke Akua (God).
Amazingly, the ocean also calls me out into its deeper waters. With the respect and fear I had for the ocean, I never imagined how much I would enjoy being out, swimming in the deep. My first experience was on Kauai, with a tour of the Nepali Coast. But just recently, as a birthday gift, my husband took me on a replica Hawaiian sailing canoe out of Kona.
I couldn’t wait to jump into the deep, dark blue waters. We swam and snorkeled, observing honu getting cleaned by smaller fish. After a while I realized everyone else had returned to the canoe. But the crew member snorkeling with us told me we had plenty of time. So I stayed out there as long as I could.
I found that it’s easy to stay afloat, and yet quite hard to swim against the current. But what impressed me the most were the waves. They weren’t yet formed or crashing, but instead, were glassy smooth and easily lifted me up high. Then in an instant, I was softly let down below the horizon line, before the next wave lifted me up again. On and on this went, the ocean holding me in its arms, wrapping me with gentleness and strength, just as God’s grace does.
Can you see where I got my inspiration for this painting?
I think I have figured out now why I love the ocean so very much! It’s a constant visual to me of what God’s grace is. We didn’t earn it or deserve it, but we are forgiven over and over and over like waves hitting the shore. We are brought into relationship; into unity with God as our past is swept away from underneath us. We are lifted up in his arms of love.
Excuse me now… gotta go… the Ocean’s calling.
Did this story encourage you?
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The original painting and prints of "Ocean's Calling" are available at my artist website.
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