Sun Rise over the Gulf of Mexico on St George Island, FL
It didn’t take me as long to come up with an image for “merge” this week as a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge (Merge), but it also looks like one of the more popular posts from the traffic as well. A sunrise might be a little more cliché than my previous posts, but we just got back from the beach, and this is what you shoot at the beach. I also have an extreme fondness for sunrises and sunsets. Twice a day we get such a unique view of God’s creation, and no two are ever the same. Last year I watched two sunrises and almost three sunsets in about a 24-36 hour period when I flew from Atlanta to Africa (which I actually don’t think I have posted yet).
I love the topic of photographically showing merge. There is no better way (to me) to photographically exhibit the topic of merge than a sunrise or sunset over the ocean, except perhaps a heavy fog. The night merging into the day. All the colors merging and blending all into one. Then the horizon disappearing or reappearing, marking a change in time from one day to the next. This shot was taken yesterday looking out over the Gulf of Mexico from St. George Island, FL just about 30-45 minutes after sunrise, just about the time all the color in the sky and water faded into dull blues. It was just as peaceful in person as it looks in the photo above.
I’m going to do another post later with just photos from St. George, so for now, here is my version of “merge” for this week. Be sure to check out some of the other entries below.
Today we had a very last minute invite to St George Island, right across the bay from Apalachicola. This had to be our fastest trip ever down to the coast, no wait, second fastest… we once drove down to our Orange Beach marina for Thanksgiving in 2007 only to find out their wifi was not working and then made the 4-5 hour drive right back. We were there for about 60 minutes. This time we were down there for about 20 hours. It was plenty long enough to bake in the blasting heat, read another chapter in the Bonhoeffer biography (which is incredible), take a few pics for today’s Friday Feet, and make it back home.
Hard to believe how long it has been since Deb and I have been down to the gulf. We use to go down there about once a month but it’s been almost two years since we made the drive down there. I was instantly reminded why we use to go down there in December through February. The 100% humidity and 100*F weather going on right now was enough to make you run for cover.
There is nothing quite like the power of God as seen through an incoming storm on the ocean. This week we planned on spending a few days in-between our two fall semesters down at the gulf, and of course there was a strong remnant of a hurricane from the Pacific on its way over right to our little spot. The ocean is even limited in our mind by as far as we can see, and only from the tiny little spot on the sand we can stand. But it changes every day. I have been to the Pacific, Atlantic, and of course the Gulf and it never looks the same, the ocean, even from our small perspective. The surfers were quite thrilled to see the 35-40mph winds down there today, and I took a few shots of the local surfers.
We all know that living a life of discipline is important for many reasons, but this topic is not something traditionally touched on Sunday mornings, how learning to live a life of spiritual discipline is just as important in the Christian walk. Often we think we can only worship on Sunday in the church building, or only pray when we get on our knees and fold our hands. That is a slight over exaggeration but we know that scripture says in 1 Thess 5:17 to pray without ceasing, so how can we do that if we only participate in prayer or worship on Sunday mornings?
The photo I shot below was taken on a beach in Orange County California several months ago. It was almost deserted except for a few surfers and after a long day of work it was a great place to worship and pray while I watched the beauty of God’s day come to an end (other photos from that afternoon of worship are posted in Pacific Coast Sunset in OC // Friday Feet).
I just finished one of the best small books I have read recently called Spiritual Life by Westerhoff, and in his book he explains 6 different ways we go about learning to live a life of spiritual discipline. Silence and solitude, preparation, writing, reading, and several others are all ways we can experience God’s presence, and in turn grow in our spiritual relationship with Him. I for one am excited to be able to worship the God who made this sunset, it was an afternoon between me and His presence that I won’t soon forget.
If you would like to read my extended comments on this topic I have made them available in this short essay called Spiritual Formation, Learning to Live a Life of Discipline in a pdf download. I have a long way to go, but love knowing that I can worship our Lord anywhere, anytime, and he hears my prayer, and he hears yours as well.
What do we strive for that lasts? Nothing that moths and rust can destroy of course. So, taking the “treasures” out of the topic for the moment, I would personally hold knowledge and love about as high as they can go but Paul (among others) tells us of the two, love is the greater. Through several different experiences this week I have been reminded that Paul teaches us to hold love over knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3). With knowledge can come what C.S. Lewis refers to in Christian Behavior as the “the greatest sin”, pride.
the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others… and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility
To me, Pride & Humility (which seem to be interchangeable), and Love are matters of the heart, but are things to keep in the proper order of importance. How? Have no idea, but at least if I keep reminding myself, I might be able to keep them in the proper order.
The photo above was a shot I took at sunset on the beach in California a few weeks ago while I was in Orange County. At the time, nothing was more important than this.
This is hardly where I spent most of the day on Friday, but then after Catalyst West Coast was over I was so exhausted I decided to drive over to the coast to watch the sunset. I ended up down near the Balboa Peninsula on the PCH and walked out to the beach just in time. I have been in Southern Cal for 4 days, it has been cold and cloudy the whole time (after it was 100* the day before I got here) and late on Friday the skies just opened up. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had witnessed in a long time and I will make it my Friday Feet post for this week.
For those looking for Catalyst West Coast images… I will start to post some of those when I get back. I am on my way to the airport right now, thanks to everyone at Catalyst and Mariner’s Church that made this week such a inspirational time.
Today was our first and last full day on the gulf coast. For January, the weather was beautiful but very very windy. We went to one of our most favorite places in the Perdido Key area, the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We never really stay for more than a day or two down here but you pay for a 7-day pass ($8) and have access to one of the most wonderful white sand beaches on the Alabama/Florida gulf coast shore lines.
Every time we have been here the 5-7 mile stretch of beach has only a handful of people (today almost no one) and it seems to be one of those few areas in the country that still has pristine beaches and little sign of city life. Our other favorite area like this is over on the Outter Banks of North Carolina which also has some of the most untouched beaches in the country. So for my Friday Feet post today, here is my feet image, and also a few more. Tomorrow is it back to Auburn and back to work.
This is just one of probably 5,000 images I have of an empty beach. People often tell me they can’t find any beaches without big crowds anymore, especially here in the continental U.S., but I beg to differ. More often than not, Deborah and I find ourselves on a beach with less than 10 people in a 5 square mile area. This beach is one of our favorites. In North Carolina you can go to the Outer Banks and find empty beach after beach.
Of course one of the keys to finding an empty beach is going when everyone else doesn’t want to go. This may sound stupid, but if you want to get a tan and lay in the sun, then go where everyone else is going. If you are interested in walking on a place like the photo below, go in the off season, it is great. So far, we have been able to find empty beaches in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and some incredible ones in Alabama.
They are certainly nice places still left, you just have to look. This is one of our favorites spots, and it is usually empty all year long with white sand and no trash. It is COLD in the winter winds, but still a great place to spend an afternoon, and today, it is the image of the day.