April McGowan

The Ocean and God’s Sovereignty


The Ocean and God’s Sovereignty

The ocean is my place. I grew up on it. As long as the day was clear, I could see the gray-blue expanse from my town. The bay resided only a fifteen minute bike ride away. I would often drive to the rockier beaches and spend the day hiking with my dog. I always felt closest to God at the beach. His character is embedded in the power, the depth, the provision and beauty. Even now that we live 1 1/2 hours from the coast, I can still feel the pull. Once in a while, on a blustery day, I imagine the oceanic aromas blowing in from the coast and up through our Oregon valley. I’m often homesick for it, so when a dear friend gave me the gift of a day at the ocean, I felt doubly blessed. There are moments we can experience that directly point to the Lord. I had one such experience that day.

The day held hope. I don’t know another way to say it. It was supposed to rain, but it didn’t. It should have been very cold; it was breezy but tolerable. I hadn’t been feeling well, but felt pretty good that morning. After we arrived and set up our things on the sand and took in the sights, I went for a walk. I wanted to sojourn with God at my place. I headed down the shore, walking alongside the crashing surf, and soaking up the sounds of the lovely white hushing noise of multiple waves breaking upon one another.

This was it. My time. I began to pray. As I listed my joys and sorrows, a side-rolling wave came toward me and I avoided it, moving higher. Then another. So beautiful was His handiwork! I moved further up and continued to praise God. Then another wave came at me, inexplicably, from the front and the side at the same time, forcing me on a different path once again. And just like that, I was praising the Father who created this expanse and simultaneously grumbling at being forced from the course I’d started out on.

My conflicting thoughts brought me up short. If I claimed God’s sovereignty in all things–and I most certainly do–then who am I to complain when His wave cuts me off and ushers me, my hopes, my family, even my illness in a new direction? Tears of conviction filled my eyes. From that point on, in my humbled state, I began looking for the shift of those waves and enjoying the path, wondering where it’d take me rather than fighting it.

How’s your week? Have the waves cut you off from where you’d intended to be? I’m praying that the Lord reveals His new path for you soon.

Until next time, many blessings.


Psalm 95: 3-5 For the Lord is a great God,and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. (read more here)


  1. Janet
    May 7, 2015

    Lovely illustration of God’s direction in our lives. It’s a thought to hold on to as our ideas need to be submitted to His will and His loving ALL MIGHTY hand!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. David N. Walker
    May 7, 2015

    Thanks, April, for your moving picture of God in nature. There’s much in your home state to show that – from the southern coast from the state line up to Coos Bay to the northeastern corner above Enterprise, I’ve found beautiful demonstrations of God’s power and beauty.

    • April
      May 13, 2015

      Thanks, David. I agree–that whole shoreline is incredible. I love finding God’s fingerprints on His creation!

  3. Valerie Becker
    May 11, 2015

    We are kindred spirits, April. Thanks for saying it in words I don’t have. When I am near the ocean, I am home.

    • April
      May 13, 2015

      I wondered, Val! I feel the same way. Home. Such peace…even on the most blustery of days.

  4. Kindall
    Nov 16, 2015

    I just visited a beach and ocean for the very first time this past October. I’ve ALWAYS longed to go to a beach since I was little. I finally went to South Beach in Florida and I fell in love with the ocean. I felt God was hugging me and I longed to hug the oven back! I took pictures there and posted them to Facebook and my little sister said I looked different and she couldn’t understand why. It was because I felt genuinely happy and at peace and it showed on my face and in my smile!

    Even reading this and how the ocean had that pull on you made me tear up with joy! I tear up every time I think about the ocean! I remember I had on some long sheer pants and they got soaked because I walked sonclose to the water and I didn’t mind my pants being ruined.

    I long for the ocean everyday. I plan on moving soon so that I can be near the ocean. I felt more spiritually connected to God at the ocean than I ever have at a church.

    Thanks for this and God bless you!

    • April
      Nov 16, 2015

      Thanks for sharing that! Even though I know He is with me always, it is THERE I feel that communion, that closeness. I hope you get to go again very soon!

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