He sat in stillness, as if mesmerized by the crashing waves in front of him.
“Mind if I take your picture?” I ventured.
After the photo shoot, I asked him the standard beach-side question, “Where’re you from?”
“I live here and usually come once a day. What brings you here on a week day? How’d you get time off?”
With a smile I replied, “I recently retired so I can come any time.”
“What’re you doing now that you’re retired?”
I offered the first thing that came to my mind. “Well, it’s given me time to write a book.”
“What’s it about?
“Fear of rejection.”
“That’s something we all face. But you just walked up and talked to me.” He looked up from his sandy perch with a smirk.
Caught off guard by this realization, I paused.
He admitted, “The thought of rejection holds me back from saying things or presenting my opinion because I want it to be perfect, you know?”
“I know. I used to be afraid of what people might think of me. Making progress, though.”
“What are the principles in your book?”
After presenting the three sections—Living in Captivity, Breaking Strongholds, Tasting Freedom—I told him I had God in my life and He had set me free from the things that kept me in bondage.
“I want to buy your book.”
That led to an exchange of names and the full title of my book.
Then Alex told me more. “I belong to an AA group. I used to go to keep from drinking. Now I go because of the fellowship. And I feel safe.”
“How long have you been sober?”
“Seventeen years. I don’t want to take one drink, because I don’t want to give up what I have in the group.”
“That’s wonderful. God wants to help you stay sober.” After a pause I asked, “Alex, where are you on your spiritual journey?”
“I’m into spirituality but not religion.””
“God isn’t into religion either. Instead, He wants to have a personal relationship with us. Prayer is the way we can talk to Him, just like you and I are talking.”
Pausing for a moment, we looked toward the rolling waves, blue sky, and brilliant sunshine and agreed that all of it reflected God. Unexpectedly, Alex said, “I sometimes think of a pearl and how the irritation of the sand inside the oyster creates something beautiful.”
“And each pearl is unique,” I said.
“It’s like we are unique, but imperfect. When we speak up, we don’t need to be afraid to be imperfect. In my AA group, I listen but don’t say much about myself.”
With a big smile, I exclaimed, “You can tell them about our conversation. Then it’s like a story, not just about you.”
“Yeah, Jesus told parables, which are like stories.” His eyes shone as if he were considering the amazing possibility of being able to tell his story.
Sensing this a perfect time to explain more, I told him that Jesus had died to pay for our sins so we would be able to know God personally. When I asked if he’d heard about Jesus dying on the cross, he nodded.
“Alex, would you like to pray with me and ask God to come into your life? Or do you want to pray on your own?”
“I will pray myself, because you told me how to do that.”
As we stood together, he said, “Thank you for stopping to talk. I’ll buy your book. I know it will help me.”
“Alex, do you realize that God arranged that you would come to this spot and I would choose this time to walk by?”
We smiled at each other with the realization that this was an arranged appointment we would never forget.
As I walked away, I felt like my feet were barely touching the sand. Silently, I asked God to give Alex courage to pray, and to share his beach story and book with his AA group. I could only imagine the lives that might be changed when they listen to him speak up without fear.
I’m praying that this spiritual seed-planting and watering time will blossom and flourish in the heart of Alex, the man God brought to the sea that day.