I live by “The Coast.” Growing up in Southern California we called the place where the Pacific Ocean and the North American Continent intersected “The Beach.” I was not a big “Beach” person. The idea of going and stretching out on the beach and getting a sun tan was not my idea of having a good time. In addition, I didn’t much like the sand and salt and oil that I would often take home with me. Yes, I did say oil. Not sun tan oil or baby oil mind you. This was oil from oil rigs and it seemed if there was a glob of oil somewhere on the beach it would find me. Going to “The Beach” was not a high priority in my early childhood agenda.
I live by “The Coast.” I am now beginning to understand that “The Coast” is not “The Beach,” nor it is “The Shore.” I have friends who live on the Eastern border of America where the continent and the Atlantic Ocean connect. There, folks from the mainland migrate during the tourist times of the year to “The Shore.” Families look fondly upon those times as the beach booms with family friendly recreation.
I live by “The Coast,” at least that is what people who live on the Northwestern border of America call the intersecting point of continent and ocean. “The Coast” is not “The Beach” with which I grew up. The adolescent Beach Boy dreams of “I wish they all could be California girls” are different here. The sunbathing beauties are often covered up because the water is cold and the wind is harsh and laying out under the sun brings the risk of hypothermia. Nor is “The Beach” “The Shore” with theme parks and miles of beach related stores that draw the hoards from the large metropolitan areas.
I live by “The Coast” but I have not lived here during tourist season. I know my experience will change although I doubt it will become the beach or the shore. I know there will be more traffic and a much larger portion of humanity with whom to share my coast. But, I anticipate there will be those places to which my wife and dog and I can escape to do our favorite activity: walk and look for stuff.
Yes, “The Coast” has stuff, beautiful stuff I might add. As we walk we find shells of various types with varying degrees of wholeness. We pick up and remove beach debris washed ashore by passing boats or ill informed visitors. We find beautifully ocean-shaped sandstone or basalt rocks and sometimes a cherished piece of sea glass. We pick up a variety of pieces of driftwood that catches our fancy as we envision what they might become with a little shaping from a Dremel tool.
What do we do with our stuff from “The Coast?” Let me speak for myself first: for the most part I do whatever my wonderful wife tells me to do with the stuff! You see, she has been blessed with the spiritual gift of craftsmanship (in our egalitarian day I must say ‘craftwomanship’). She sees things I do not see from the treasures that are brought from the sea. She has a vision for what a shell or a rock or a piece of wood might become. I can only do in a limited way what comes from her instinctively. I know the gift she demonstrates must come from God.
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts– 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Exodus 31:1-6a (NIV)
I might need to start calling her Bezalel-a.
Now, I have noticed something about this giftedness from God. It benefits others because it draws out a beauty that most people miss. I am sure that those gifted in the Old Testament passage were not the focus of the craft they pursued and shared. Their gift was to draw people into the presence of God. God’s giftedness should always do that. As Jesus said,
Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:16
But, there is another thing I have noticed about giftedness from God: It nourishes the soul of the one who is gifted. As they use their gift, as they express the vision that resides within them and let it out they are lifted and filled with joy. Sometimes they look at something and say, “Wow! That came from me” and then stand in awe of that in which they have served a little part.
As a congregation, Chapel by the Sea is studying the person and work of Holy Spirit. As we do so let’s not forget that Holy Spirit gives us gifts. Often these gifts match with our personalities and talents. Sometimes they don’t. Regardless, gifts from Holy Spirit always are given to touch the lives of others, to enrich them, to draw them to the Lord. The added blessing is that those gifts also enrich me, opening my eyes to the presence and work of God, bringing joy to my willing soul whether I am on “The Coast,” at “The Beach,” or going to “The Shore.”