One of the big things I learned on summer mission this year was the importance of Sabbath. No, not like going to church on Sunday to check it off your to-do list. Rather, Sabbath is taking a step back from your busy life to rest as God did on the seventh day. Last year I spent so much time running around doing things, I forgot to take a full day to rest in God. Luckily, this year Cru staff was given every Friday off for the purpose of rest, and being filled up by God’s presence. And what better way to spend your Sabbath than by relaxing on a Florida beach?
So my friends and I had a goal. We’d heard of it being done in the past, but weren’t sure we could do it. We wanted to watch the sunrise on the east coast of Florida, and watch it set on the west coast. The problem is, that’s a long day, and a lot of driving. However, as people who really wanted to go on an adventure, we thought we could handle it. So there we were at 5 am, scrambling to get out the door and down to the parking lot, wondering if everybody else had managed to wake up early enough or had given up. Fortunately the six of us were all awake, and in the car ready to go, a little later than we planned, but ready to watch the sunrise.
We decided to drive to Melbourne for the sunrise, which was about an hour and twenty minutes away from where we were staying. Having been delayed until 5:30 in leaving, we were pushing it trying to get there in time. We were also pushing it to stay awake on the long drive. Fortunately we had a great DJ, and I made it the whole to the beach without falling asleep (thank goodness, I was the one driving)!
We arrived about 20 minutes after the sunrise, but the sky was still bursting with beautiful colors, and the six of us stood on the beach, staring at the beautiful creation before us. It’s easy sometimes to forget the beautiful things that God has surrounded us with, even when you’re working in ministry! However, in that moment, when I took a step back from the craziness of life, I remembered how incredible God and His creation truly are.
Satisfied with the view, and aware that our stomachs were beginning to growl, we tore our eyes from the sky and headed back to the car to eat at a cafe that had be recommended to us – Oh Biscuit! We sat outside in the coolness of the early morning and enjoyed some of the best biscuits we had ever tasted until we were full and decided to hit up the next beach of the day – Cocoa!
We’d been to Cocoa beach already that summer, but it’s one of our favorites, so how could we not go back! We arrived at about 8am (way earlier than I would normally have been awake) and laid out our beach towels, ready to sunbathe and take naps. The temperature was perfect, just warm enough for comfort, so I settled in with my journal and enjoyed the view of the waves crashing on the sand as I wrote out my memories of the summer and prayers of thanks to God for all of the incredible things that had already happened that summer.
After about an hour I made my way down to the shore, stopping along the way to look at some tide pools and the little minnows flitting back and forth. Dipping my feet in the cool ocean was incredible, and off in the distance I could see dolphins breaking through the waves. Pretty soon the other five joined me in the water, and we took turns floating on the waves and screaming in excitement when dolphins came near us. I was exhausted from waking up so early, but it had been a long time since I’d felt so relaxed.
We decided around noon that it was about time to head back home for a quick break before heading to the west coast, so we hopped back in Phoebe (my trusty car, she’s not Kathy but she’s mine) and began our way home, only briefly pausing to go to McDonald’s. Apparently if you don’t go to McDonald’s after a day at the beach, you’re doing it wrong.
We got back home, dead tired, and all considering whether or not we should finish out the day. Some of us didn’t. Two people dropped out from exhaustion and forgotten responsibilities, but the other four of us were determined! We even picked up another friend and forced her to join us on the adventure (#sorrynotsorry Amy)! So at about 5:30 we piled back into Phoebe and made our way to Clearwater Beach. The traffic was horrendous. If you can avoid I-4 during rush hour (or most of the day) do it. It took us way longer than normal to get to the beach, and once we got there parking spaces were hard to come by. We drove around for another 10-15 minutes before finally settling for a spot in a $3/hour parking lot. Exasperated, but happy to be there, we finally left the car.
As soon as we walked down to the beach, all of our frustration melted away, and we realized the trip was worth it. Clearwater is one of the most famous beaches in Florida for a reason. The sand is pure white, and the water actually is clear – shocking, I know, but in Texas that doesn’t exist.
We stood for a moment, taking in the gorgeous view of the beach, until we could no longer ignore the growling in our stomachs. It was time for dinner. Amy lead us away from the beach and across the street, immediately picking the place that looked like it had the most delicious food and got us on the waiting list. Ten minutes later we were seated and chowing down on delicious beach food, counting down the minutes until the sunset.
As the sun was nearing the horizon, the five of us left the cafe, and made our way back to the beach. We waded out into the ocean, and watched the vibrant colors grown darker and darker in shade as the sun disappeared behind the waves. Warm water lapped against us, and the sand under our feet shifted as we stood in contentment. It was absolutely the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.
Soon after, we headed back to Phoebe so we could go home and get some rest. Most of us had been up for over sixteen hours at that point, and we were beat. It had been a long day, but a perfect day; one full of rest and rejuvenation. Happier than we had been in a while, the five of us drove home, ready for what the rest of the summer would bring.
Psalm 116:7 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”