(Editor’s note- This fictional story occasionally appears on this page. We hope that even if you’ve read this story before that you allow it to cause you to pause and examine your own life… because there is a little bit of Tom in all of us!)
There was a young couple who went to Ocean City, Maryland on their honeymoon. We will call them Tom and Becky. Becky had a real relationship with Jesus while Tom attended church with her, but was still investigating what it meant to have faith in Jesus.
One evening as they were walking on the boardwalk they saw a poster that indicated there would be a church service on the beach the next morning. As it was with most church-related things, Becky was interested in going while Tom was thinking about sleeping in the next morning, but because he wanted to be a good husband, he agreed to attend with her. The next morning they woke up early, Becky excitedly so, Tom reluctantly. After breakfast they headed to 10th Street and made their way to be beach. About 75 people had gathered, all dressed casually, many in beach attire. The service began with a small band playing a several worship songs. People were singing and dancing, several were even tossing a beach ball back and forth. Tom was very surprised to see that most of the people in attendance actually looked like they were enjoying the experience. He was used to church being more formal and rules-oriented.
After the worship band stopped playing, a young lady stepped to the microphone and welcomed the crowd then prayed. This prayer was different than what Tom was accustomed to; this prayer seemed like a conversation between the woman and God whereas Tom was used to prayers being formal and filled with lots of spiritual words. After the prayer a barefooted man in shorts and a t-shirt got up and gave a message on what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. The sermon had stories and jokes and Tom actually felt as if the preacher was talking to him. Something pricked Tom’s heart and after the service was over he asked Becky to go with him to talk to the preacher about his message. Becky was pleasantly surprised; in fact, she was hoping this would be the moment in which Tom would commit his life to Jesus. Tom only had one question for the preacher – He asked, “You said we need to desire God more than anything else in life. What does that really mean?” The preacher gave a surprising answer. He said to Tom, “Drive across the bridge to Assateague Island National Seashore, park in the lot, and walk to the deserted beach. Look for the old man who lives there; he is well-tanned with long gray hair. Ask him that question.”
That seemed like a strange answer but Becky and Tom grabbed some lunch and headed off to find the old man. Once there, they quickly found the old man, sitting on a rock feeding the seagulls. They introduced themselves and then Tom said, “The beach preacher told me to find you and that you would explain to me what it means to seek after God with all my heart.”
Without saying a word, the old man motioned for Tom to follow him and they walked into the ocean, first up to their ankles, then their knees, and soon they were standing in water chest deep. Suddenly the old man pushed Tom’s head under the water and held him there. Ten, fifteen, twenty seconds went by and soon Tom was running out of oxygen. After what seems like minutes, Tom was angry and he exploded up out of the water, yelling at the old man, “What were you doing, trying to drown me?” Again, without talking, the old man began walking back to the shoreline, motioning Tom to follow him.
Once they got to the beach, the old man finally spoke. He asked Tom, “When you were under the water what is the one thing you desired most?” Tom yelled back, “Oxygen!” The old man then said to Tom, “When you want Jesus like you wanted oxygen, you will find Him.” With that, he turned and walked away from Tom and Becky.
So today we ask you, how passionately are you seeking after God? Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us this, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Proverbs 8:17 reads like this, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me.”
New Bern, North Carolina