"Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." Colossians 3:2-4
The rental van was loaded, my youth students all smelling like sunscreen and buckled in. We boarded the ferry just thirty minutes later, out in the bay headed toward Ship Island. Ship Island is a unique place. One of the things I love about it is that it forces you to detach from our technology-distracted world. When you first arrive, there is an old Civil War fort directly to the right of the shore, Fort Massachusetts. The fort was built in 1859 and protected the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the Civil War. To get to the beach, you must take a mile long boardwalk to the other side of the island, where there is a snack bar, restrooms, and a beautiful grey-white sanded beach arrayed with bright blue umbrellas as far as the eye can see.
Our group lugged all our beach chairs, towels, and coolers across the long, no-shad zone pier (with a few complaints) and made it to the beach on the far side. I noticed a sign to my right about ten yards away that read: Toxic Waste - DO NOT ENTER. No Swimming. The sign stood as a warning for the jetty behind it, loaded with murky ocean water, seaweed, driftwood, and deflated beach-balls! It reminded me of "The Beast's" backyard in the movie, The Sandlot. The jetty was easily forgotten with the breathtaking view of the clear ocean calm that laid before us, begging to be explored for the day.
As the day went on, I found myself getting sleepy and drifted off for about thirty minutes, a quick power nap that the fearless Youth leader needed - plus, the kids had nowhere to go since we were quarantined on the island until the ferry came back at 5:00 pm. When I awoke, I got up and went to look for my students. I made my way toward the snack shack and stopped, puzzled. I could see four teenagers playing in the toxic waste jetty to my left. They were MY YOUTH STUDENTS! I walked up to them, shocked, and asked, "Guys, what in the world are you doing? Why are you playing in this when the beach and ocean are right here in front of you? We didn't come all this way to play in this!" I can still remember their faces - they looked at me like I was being ridiculous. One of them even said to me, "But this is more fun." Christian author and apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Weight of Glory, "It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Easter is almost here, a time we are reminded to be witnesses to the resurrection. As Christians, because of Jesus' defeat of death on the Cross and the empty tomb, we have VICTORY in Jesus! Through faith in Him, we receive the greatest reward of all: ETERNAL LIFE! We can't even BEGIN to fathom eternity because we always experience an end in this life. However, the beach of eternity is calling. Philippians 3 tells us our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). What toxic waste are you settling for in your life that could be replaced by finding inner joy in Jesus? The treasure found in Him is something that is never toxic, will never see decay, and will never be eaten by moth or rust (Matthew 6:19-20). May we be reminded this month that Jesus has given us so much more, especially as we celebrate Easter! Because of Him, we are made alive and should enjoy playing on the beach through all seasons and storms of life: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.