It’s a searing July day. We’ve fled to the beach to escape the heat, and at water’s edge, there he is.
A man is lying in the froth and surf.What? The tide comes in, then swooshes out, and he rolls to and fro in the sand.
He gets up, stumbles off. His footing’s unsure, and the sand beneath his feet is a-shifting. Tide keeps on moving.
I see that he’s with a much younger fellow. A tall, lean, beautiful specimen of manhood, he looks for all the world like a jaguar, or a panther. He’s graceful with long, flowing hair. They’re together.
The day winds down. The sun’s long, fiery fingers stretch and stretch, reaching to caress the waves as if loathe to let them go. And there he is again.
He tosses and flops in the water. He’s talking to my beloved Mr. Schrock, I see, but the wind snatches their words and flings them. He’s so drunk that I fear for his safety. Should we stay? Should we watch? I’m uncertain.
We gather our things to leave. Towels, flip-flops, backpacks, and noodle are tossed over our shoulders, clasped in hands. I glance down the row and spot him standing by his beach chair. And like that, I feel the Hand. My feet carry me to the falling-down man. He’s looking down at the sand, his head’s bent.
“Excuse me,” I say, and he looks up. “I just have one thing to say.” His eyes are bleary, unfocused. And there it comes. “I know the Man you’ve been looking for your entire life. His name is Jesus.”
He’s looking up at me. The sun’s beating hot on his face, and he’s listening to this stranger on a beach. “Jesus Christ has been waiting for you your whole life. His eye is upon you.” And now, the falling-down man is standing up to face me. His eyes–oh, my. His swimming eyes.
“I can’t believe you are saying those words to me.” That’s what he says. “I grew up in a ‘Jesus Christ home.’ I’m gay.”
“I know.” That’s what I say, and I’m smiling into his face. The compassion of a mother’s in my heart, in my voice.
“I’m gay, and it wasn’t accepted.”
I hand him the bread that’s in my basket, and I found it in John 3:17. “God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. To save you!”
His nose is a mess. His face is all wet, and he’s scarcely aware, so I take up the towel from his chair. Reaching up, I dab his face and nose as I continue to speak.
“You’re still alive, and you’re alive for a reason.”
He is crying now. How long has it been since anyone has looked at him and said, “There’s a reason for your life?” Maybe years. Maybe never. My heart’s a mess.
I ask him for his name, and he tells me. Then I tell him mine. “But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that God sent me to you with this message. He loves you.”
And there in the sand, a man whose name I know says to the girl whose name he may have already forgotten, “Can I give you a hug?” And I say, “Yes.”
I put my arms around him. He’s hugging me so hard, and I know that God has seen and that He cares.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The grace of God, I have found, is amazing. His grace in the ordering of my steps. His grace in the healing of my heart. His grace that enables this formerly bound-up girl caught in religion to love the last, the lost, and the least.
To love the sons and the daughters of other mothers whose lives, like his, are a mess.
If God can accomplish such a miraculous work in my heart and life, He can do it in you. This, I know.
Later on, I was speaking about it to a friend whose son is gay, too, although he’s a much younger man. “Look what happened!” I said to her. “All these years later, God sent me to give him a message.” To speak His name to another woman’s son, advanced in years.
All these years later, God, still pursuing. Still wooing. Still loving, all of our daughters and sons. So take heart.
Warmly, as ever,