My heart is drawn to things bigger than myself. I love the feeling of standing before the crashing waves of an endless ocean, or summiting a peak that holds me higher than I have been before. It is a feeling that makes me feel small, not an insignificant small, but rather a smallness that reminds me of my place. Standing on the edge of grandeur I could never fathom, I am reminded of who I am. In a world of beautiful wonders, I have a place. I am humbled in the best way possible. I gain perspective, I gain thankfulness, and I gain a newfound sense of awe.
I recently went to one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, Ireland. After exploring the south, my friends and I ventured north, beyond Galway. The further north we drove, the roads got smaller, mountains rose taller, and the chance of seeing civilization became thinner. We spent 2 days settled in a thatched roof cottage perfectly placed in the Irish countryside. We had no idea what to do in Donegal county, so we did what any 21st century human would do and Googled it. When Google did not show an overwhelming response, we selected a lighthouse option only a couple hours away. We figured if nothing else, the drive to the coast would be stunning.
The next morning we woke up slowly. We cupped our hands around our warm mugs of coffee and watched the sheep wander around the yard. I’ll be honest; we had low expectations for the day. It was the one day we did not thoroughly plan and had no idea what we were in for. It was our designated day of rest to recover from our previous days of exploration.
When we pulled up to the Fanad Head Lighthouse, I could feel excitement rise in the car. Sitting on the edge of a rocky cliff sat the most picturesque, white lighthouse. It was simple, yet majestic. We jumped out of the car into the brisk wind. We had suddenly gone from the “car ride sleepy state” to a childlike giddiness. For the next hour, we played among the rocks and embraced the wild winds rising. The rich colors painted the most alluring sight. Every shade of brown, green, and blue blended together in the landscape, while the faithful, bright white of the lighthouse stood strongly as a rescue from the approaching storm. We stood on the edge, soaking up the view, unafraid of whatever weather might come our way.
Soon after, as we made ourselves cozy in the corner of a tiny pub, I could not shake the feeling of revival. Our eyes remained bright and there was an air of wonder around us. What was it about this day and these views that gave us renewed excitement? Would I feel it again?
When our mugs were empty and our plates held only crumbs, we set out to the next spot. The sweet Irish lady who ran the pub advised us to continue only a few more miles up the coast to Portsalon. We thanked her graciously and continued on our way.
Her directions led us to a dead end gravel road in the most idyllic Irish scenery. We were surrounded by gently rolling hills and quaint cottages scattered about. We assumed heading toward the water was the right direction, so we continued on by foot, doubtful we were in the right place.
We turned the hill to look down and discover a mighty rock arch surrounded by looming cliffs. We scurried down in pure abandonment because we had the beach to ourselves. For the remainder of the afternoon, we climbed rocks and explored caves. We laughed at our soaked shoes when we failed to out-run the fast approaching waves. Further down the pebbled shore sat a freestanding cliff. Upon further observation, we found a narrow path with room for just one person to climb up. We took turns, each of us silently doubting our bravery as we looked over into the rocky sea. But as I stood on the edge, I got the feeling again, the feeling of complete and total freedom. I steadied myself against the winds and watched the waves cash on the rocks below me. I felt complete peace in the midst of the wild, and that was when it hit me.
I love standing before these larger than life views because it reminds me who is in control. Mark 4:41 shares the disciples’ realization that “even the wind and the waves obey him.” Everything that surrounds me obeys the Lord. While the strong gusts of wind and crashing waves seem so wild and unpredictable to me, I am drawn to them because God is still controlling its wildness. I think the ocean is visible proof that control does not always mean safe and calm. The Creator of the currents and Painter of crashing waves makes that way for a purpose. How amazing is it to know the One who holds me also orchestrates the water to break just where he wants, or builds mountains for us to climb to get a better glimpse of his creation? Standing on top of a rocky cliff, with the tide rising around me, I found peace. I am so small, but God still created a place for me in this world, which means I have purpose. Even among stronger, more beautiful creations, I am still a work of art with meaning.
A month later, I find myself thinking back to my moments on that rocky edge, my moments of peace in the wildest of surroundings. The simple yet profound beauty that day held will always be a sweet gift to me. Here is my charge to you, whether it is wild or calm, the next time you find yourself before a larger-than-life creation, take a moment. Soak up your smallness in the midst of grandeur. We are walking examples that there is significance in small things. Then, take joy in the One in whom all things obey. Even in the wildest of circumstances, there is One always in complete control. How sweet it is to serve a Lord who created the mightiest of peaks and the tiniest of details- all serving its own divine purpose.
words and photo by Lauren Grindstaff