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)

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Chipping Away

Tall TreesWhile growing up I thought once I was in my forties (or old, as I considered it) that I’d have life all figured out. Okay, quit chuckling at me, that’s not nice. Anyway… as I was saying…life all figured out. Easy sailing on smooth seas. (Seriously?…Stop laughing!)

God’s word doesn’t promise smooth sailing, through. It does promise He will never leave us nor forsake us. I’ve begun to wonder if that verse has a double meaning. In His not leaving us, He’s also not leaving us to our own devices, or leaving us unchanged. Rather, once we accept Jesus as our savior, we are being made over.

We’re like trees standing in a grove, growing, waiting, watching the seasons pass, one to the next. The summer, the fall, the winter… But rather suddenlyfile2911254930140 and often without warning, trials come. We are cut down. Our limbs trimmed with each challenge, each hardship, each prayer for mercy until our bark is stripped and we are laid bare and tossed away seemingly forgotten in a stack. It’s tempting to despair in that wood pile. There seems no point. If we are walking alone in our faith, it can be devastating. But never fear, the Father is busy not leaving us to our own. He’s making us over, chipping away at us, for our own good and His ultimate Glory, making us into something useful. We have to be careful though, because the temptation to focus on the shavings pooling around our feet instead of the Master Carpenter is great.

Some of us (me included) will race to the store for wood glue and desperately try to stick those useless shavings back on, or put them in a box to save for later. In our memories, those shavings can become so important we forget that the Lord isn’t interested in them, but He’s got a better plan in mind. It’s not until we brush the shavings off and step away, looking at ourselves through His eyes we are able to see a new, useful creation. The old has been chipped away.


Are you stuck in winter? Are you being chipped away at? Do not fear, nor despair–spring is coming. It’s nearly here.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.



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