5:45 AM at the beach. I’m awake because I hear my middle child stirring in the kitchen outside our bedroom. He has dreams of catching a big salt water something this morning. My oldest child has gone on a bike ride. My youngest – the smartest of all – is still asleep. I go ahead and get out of bed. The clock is ticking. If I don’t stake my claim on a precious portion of sand close to the water, I will have to walk around several families who set up their equipment earlier. At the beach, the early bird gets the sand. If you are married to Katie Pearson, you have to be close to the water. So I go and set out several chairs and umbrellas. It’s a prime spot. Every Pearson should be happy. I check on Seth to ensure he has what he needs. He responds with a “I want to be alone” answer. I go back up to our condo.

For the next hour or so I read, pray, observe; and, of course, drink coffee. Lots of coffee. My chest reminds me to wear a shirt on the beach today. My stomach reminds me to go easy at dinner. My phone rings. Seth just caught a flounder. He’s beside himself, though the thing can fit in the palm of his hand.

It is amazing what happens from 6 to 7:30 AM at the beach.

More and more and more people stake their claim for a precious “ocean front” spot on the sand. Others, like Seth, are hoping to catch a whopper. Two men clean out the pool and tell early risers it’s not open yet. A senior adult woman sits on her back deck talking on the phone. Another woman scrolls hers. Tired parents sit with their young children, holding them off as long as possible. A middle aged man smokes a cigarette and drinks a beer. Two men yell at the two men working on the pool with no regard as to what time of day it is. A few others, like me, are enjoying a cup of coffee in the quiet.

Luke is back from his bike ride. I go in to refill on coffee and smell the delicious aroma of canned crescent rolls he has placed in the oven. Birti is up with a look that says, “why did I get out of bed?” I go back out to the quiet. There’s a guy in a kayak way out in the ocean. Two fishing boats are strolling by further out in the ocean. I start reading again. And praying. And observing. It’s nice to be quiet.

But it hits me that it’s not quiet at all. It’s actually pretty loud out here on the deck. Loud with ocean waves crashing. Over and over and over and over again. The water is calm, but the waves crash nonetheless. It’s why all of us are here. It’s why Seth is up. It’s why I walked down to stake out some quality sand. It’s why grandma is out back talking on her phone, rather than inside. Same with the woman scrolling. It’s what the young children long to participate in. It’s why the guy with the beer and cigarette is here. It’s why I look out right now and see all the “prime sandy real estate” spots taken.

We, all of us, are here to behold beauty. Majesty. Bigness. We’re here to be reminded of how incredible the ocean really is. It reminds us of how small we are. It gives us glimpses of how big God is. It forces us into a mystery. None of us know just how big and massive some of the fish out there really are. Looking out at the ocean gives you the same feeling as looking up at the night sky: I am small and the Person who made all this is really big.

Sure. Not everyone here will think “Wow! God is so big and wonderful and glorious!” when they observe the ocean. To be honest, even I (a preacher!) forget sometimes. But everyone – in some way, shape, form, or fashion – surrenders to majesty and awe. Whether it be a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days – we, all of us, embrace what we were made for.