It’s no accident that some of my favorite memories and my most treasured insights revolve around the beach. I’ve already documented one such moment in a previous post. The beach for me is a place of relaxation and inspiration. Nice combo. Those are the main reasons why I enjoy spending time there regardless of season or weather.
Thus I found myself last month on Menemsha beach on Martha’s Vineyard. It was a spectacular spring day. The sun was out in full springtime force. At the same angle as a July sun, it felt hot on my face. But there was also a steady breeze coming off the ocean. What with the water temperature in the low 50’s, the feeling on my skin was downright cold.
In spite of the significant difference in the temperature of the two opposing forces, the sensation was more than pleasant. It was wonderful. I wondered that, although the two seemed to be in direct opposition to one another, they worked together in perfect harmony. Either one alone might have been uncomfortable, but the combination was ideal.
That brought me to meditate on the mercy and justice of God. Like the heat of the sun and the cold of the ocean wind, they appear to be in direct conflict. How can they coexist? Either one alone would be disastrous for the human race. If God’s justice caused Him to whack us each time we did wrong, as He would be within His rights to do, my life expectancy would be zip. But if His mercy simply let all wrong slide with a wink and an, “Aw shucks, you’re only human”, the quality of our lives would be similarly miserable.
So God exercises both, and we bask in the perfection of this contradiction. I still don’t understand it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.