When God meets you at the beach

You don't have to leave your house to find God. But it sure helps!

I love a cold, crisp morning, when the sun’s just broken over the horizon. I bundle up in my thickest coat, pull on my mittens and hat, and make my way outside.

It’s about a 10-minute walk through my neighbourhood, past still-sleeping houses. There are a few other early morning walkers out as well, some with friendly, furry friends. I keep walking, one foot in front of the other, until I reach my beach.

During the summer the area is quickly overtaken by families with small children, couples young and old, and energetic runners. But in the fall and winter they retreat into the warmth of their homes and kindly leave the rocks and sand for me.

Today I walk down to the water and head to the spot where I know seashells usually wash up. Most of them are broken, scattered among rocks and sticks, but it doesn’t take too much searching to find one small, complete shell. 

Some days the search is easy; some days it takes time, but almost every day when I walk along the lake, I stop to collect a shell. I usually admire it for just a second then drop it in my pocket before continuing. But not today. Today my hand holds on to it tightly inside the safety of my pocket.

I look out over the water and spot a bird out floating in the waves. My eyes well up at the sight. I too feel lost in the deep waters, floating, alone, farther and farther from shore. 

Life is hard. Friends are in the hospital facing possible inconceivable diagnoses, workloads aren’t easing up as hoped and a global pandemic is still going on.

And all I can do in that moment is cling a little longer to the shell in my pocket.

Connection with God

I come to this beach regularly as a way to connect with God. And, just as he promised in Jeremiah 29:13, he is there whenever I seek him. There may not always be answers, but he is always there. 

With each step I take towards the water, the noise of the world slowly fades under the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. It’s peaceful and calming in a way not many areas of my life feel like right now.

I know I don’t have to go to the beach to connect with God, just like I know his presence is bigger than church. But there’s something about actively pursuing God, actively spending time with him away from the busyness and distractions everywhere else, that feels necessary sometimes. 

As I reflect on God’s word and call out to him in prayer, I know that – like the bird – I am not aimlessly drifting. I am being carried safely through the waves by the creator of the universe.

At home, I add the new shell to a jar of seashells. They sit there as a reminder of all of the different times I’ve come to the beach, and all the times God’s met me there. In times of joy, in questioning, in grief or sunshine or overcast skies. He is the constant when nothing else is.

The jar is not full yet, and that is a reminder for me as well. Because I know, no matter how many more times I go out for a walk and make my way to the water to find God, he will be there to meet me.


  • Courtney Westerhof

    Courtney is a writer and communications professional. She lives in Niagara, Ontario.

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One Comment

  1. Courtney, I am glad you have that Meeting place. My Meeting place moves around, but one certain spot is my early morning view from my living room window. God is here and I am still here too.

    Diane Plug

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