Did you know that one little wave on December 26, 2004 saved the life of an entire tribe from the Boxing Day Tsunami? It’s pretty amazing, since this tribe lives on the sea- on house boats as well as on stilt housing along the shore.
Perhaps even more amazing are the 230,000 lives lost from 14 different countries on this day. They saw the same ocean the Moken people saw. Yet, they didn’t know how to read the tides, the signs, the waves.
The ocean receded very quickly and only sent one very small wave back. The birds and cicadas stopped singing. Many insects and animals sensed/heard/felt the 9.1 magnitude earthquake that had produced “the energy equivalent of twenty-three thousand Hiroshima-type atomic bombs” (Mark Batterson, Whisper: How to hear the voice of God, p95 quoting “The Deadliest Tsunami in History? National Geographic, January 7, 2005). This great quake, the third largest recorded on a seismograph, produced waves over 100 feet tall.
Though the Moken may not have known a thing about the quake, and could not see the large wave coming, they knew the ocean. Their children learn to swim before they learn to walk. They know the moods of the great expanse of water better than most. That quick recession followed by one small wave set them in frantic motion.
With the elephants, the Moken near the shore hurried to high ground. With the dolphins, the Moken farther out at sea headed even further out to sea, where the waves would be easier to ride over.
Local fishermen kept on fishing. Youtube footage attests to people on shore noticing changes in the ocean but continuing to just stand on the shore and wonder at it. 230,000 people either didn’t notice the slight change at all, didn’t know what to make of it, or just couldn’t get to safety fast enough. 100% of the Moken made it to safety.
The Tides of Life
It makes me wonder at how good I am at reading the tides of life. There are many facets of life that we could consider here. We’re just going to look at three: our relationships, our souls, and the times.
Read the Tides of Your Relationships
The Ripples Crashing into You
How good are you at reading the wake of others on your life? You know those ripples and waves created in the water when you throw a stone in? This kind of “tide” is what I mean by wake. The wake others leave affects you each and every day. This last year, I’ve delved headlong into understanding the wake of others on my own life. I feel like Michael in Mary Poppins when his mouth dropped open and Mary Poppins said, “Michael, we are not a codfish.” I’ve been shocked at how poorly I’ve done this in many facets of my life in the past, so having properly closed my jaw, I’ve propped open a library of books to grow in this.
The Wake You Send
I also wonder how good we are at paying attention to the ripples and waves that the wake of our life leaves on others. We all know others who are extremely bad at this. They may be generally nice people, but they don’t pick up on the cues other people give them about how they are affecting others. While they may give lip service to being amicable about hearing feedback about their wake but, when you’ve addressed something, they don’t listen. Denial, defensiveness, blame and outright attack block their ears. They simply don’t have the desire, emotional maturity, and or integrity of character to hear what kind of impact their words, actions, or attitudes have on others and to grow from it.
Proverbs 10:8 shows the outcome of this approach:
The wise accept instruction, but fools argue and bring trouble on themselves.
We must learn to read the expressions of others, the sharp drawn in breath, the verbal cues that they are sending our way, and the other subtle cues they are giving us. One helpful approach might be to ask some of the safe people in your life:
- “What is it like to be in relationship with me?”
- “What is the best part of being in relationship with me?”
- “What is the worst part of being in relationship with me?”
Respond with gratitude and think and pray over the things you’ve heard. Especially if others seem to be in agreement, work on those things. Grow.
Read the Tides of Your Soul
Looking back on my life I wonder at the signs that I missed- signs I was losing parts of myself that mattered to me. If we all paid close attention to the times that pit rose in our stomach, the sincere joy washed us like the sun, the cringe went up our spines, the regret stuck in our throats, or the calm hushed our beating hearts, we might make better long-term decisions. We would know ourselves better, what makes us tick, in what environments we can be most successful, and where we need to protect our time, family, and soul better.
It could be that some of you reading this are a little like me and you have trouble hearing the physical needs and wants of your own body- let alone the emotional needs and desires you have. I rarely feel hungry, and I get a big burst of adrenaline around 11 pm, so many a day I have gotten to dinner and realized I fed the kids lunch but forgot mine; and many a night, I have plugged away at work, dishes, and laundry only to realize I’m going to pay for it in exhaustion the following day. So many are emotionally hungry, yet don’t know how to develop relationships with safe people or have never experienced the comfort relationship was designed to bring.
Maybe we’re sailing along in our steady job, feeling burdened by the Lord to pursue a different path, but rationalizing it away by the voices of the past that tell us we’re not good enough, we could never accomplish that, or we we are only good for one task. Now we echo those lies back to ourselves and brush off the leading of the Holy Spirit to shift our sails.
Read the Tides of Time
When Jesus was breathing His first breath, over 333 Scriptures whispered through history the truths about how He would come, grow, live, die, and rise again. Yet, how many recognized Him by all these very specific, very detailed signs? Even now, when it is all said and done and we can look back on those details, ticking off fulfilled prophecy after fulfilled prophecy, many of the Jewish people who looked so long for the Messiah and are still looking, have missed Him.
God has also given us clear signs regarding the future of the world. It is interesting to watch them coming together. But if you aren’t earnestly seeking God through His Word, you might not have the joy of recognizing them.
I feel out of touch sometimes with what is happening globally in regards to end time prophecies, so I love reading Gary Kah’s newsletters and other books that inform and keep me up to date (the two books in the top row with the newsletter are a great place to start).
The book of the Bible I’ve been studying lately is Revelation. I’ve just been reading it over and over and studying it through this free course offered by Dallas Theological Seminary (they offer all of these great free studies).In the past I’ve only felt a catch in my stomach when I think about Revelation. I can’t tell you how freeing it has been to understand it better (though I still occasionally have nightmares 🙂 Perhaps this is why the idea of reading the signs of the times and being active in making Him known weigh heavy on my heart.
More Like the Moken
I pray that we all grow to be more like the Moken in the way we read the tides- that we read the tides of our relationships, souls, and times better day by day.
Sip Life Slowly and Enjoy It
This blog is written with you in mind. To nudge you a little closer to the One who made you. To challenge you to engage in your life more fully. To inspire you to pursue your priorities more wholly and holy. And to experience sheer delight along the way.
If you were encouraged by this, you might also like:
- The Incredible Empty
- The #1 Thing Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew (It directly correlates to women’s greatest insecurity)
- Free Dallas Theological Seminary Classes
- Gary Kah’s Resources
- Safe People