There are two reasons why I dislike seaweed. The first one being that once when I was paddling in the sea as a child I slipped and fell into a huge patch of it that was lurking under the surface – that and being a child who grew up watching Dr Who caused me to panic at that scene that was reminiscent of Jaws. Secondly I grew up in Swansea where it was considered ‘normal’ to eat the stuff fried in the form of lava bread on a regular basis – we thought eating something that was indistinguishable from cow dung apart from the smell, was totally normal. I now wonder just why I was meant to like this – even the cat would only lick the packaging it came in, but was then completely disinterested!
Now let’s get serious. We were on holiday on the Isle of Wight the other week. We were staying within a few minutes’ stroll of the beach, and took regular walks when the tide was out. It was here I noticed clumps of Bladder Wrack seaweed and God prompted me to look at it in a totally new way:
- It was anchored to a rock or to the sand.
- It grew where there would be water, either covering it with the tides or in a pool.
- It also stored water to sustain it when the tide had gone out.
As some of you might be aware, the lives of my wife and I have of late struggled with both bereavements and me losing my job through what I still believe to be baseless accusations. It truly feels at times as though the tide has gone out with little hope of it returning whilst we are left to shrivel and die on the sand.
In light of this let’s just revisit my two statements about my dislike of seaweed. As a child I fell into that swirling, tangled, dark mass of seaweed that seemed to engulf me. It was something that at the time was frightening. Confronted by that uncertainty it unleashed a primal fear in my young brain and I fled from it as a wet shivering little boy. Then there were the years of ingesting plateful after plateful of this macerated, dark, slimy mess, not knowing any different. I came through the first incident unscathed but with just a dislike of seaweed. With eating lava bread I look back on it with nothing more than a feeling of ‘What on earth was I doing?’
The thing is I got through both of them (along with a whole host of other unpleasant experiences). At present we don’t know whether the tide is still going out, on the turn or even on its way back to us. One thing we hope though is that it will one day turn and immerse us under its nourishing, life- giving waves. We just have to do that most difficult of things and trust God as we daily do what we are able and commanded to do whilst leaving the rest with Him.
- We are still trying to trust in the finished work of the cross and the power of the resurrection in our lives. At times that seems all we have to cling to, as we hang on by our finger nails. However, in Deuteronomy 31v6 God says ‘He will never leave you or forsake you.’ We are grounded and secure on the rock that is Jesus.
- As I said, we feel as though the tide has gone out and we don’t know when it’s going to come back in – then, neither does the seaweed. But the tide does come back in or at the very least the seaweed is being sustained because it’s living off scraps, but it is still living. We have been sustained in so many ways, God has sent people to come alongside us and support us from places we would have never imagined.
- Just as the seaweed stores water until the tide comes back in, my wife and I have tried to live off all those promises that God has in His word that are ‘Yes and Amen’ in Jesus.