It was the last day of the often too short Florida visit that God has met me on the ocean. His shores, his waters. I was taking it all in as I stood ankle deep in the crystal clear water of the gulf coast.

On this last day it really was so bitter sweet knowing I’d be met with snow back home. But as I stood in that water I closed my eyes, worshiped the Lord and thanked him for everything he’s done for me. I thanked him for the ups and downs this year that have really allowed my relationship to flourish with Jesus. God has spoken to me in ways that he never has before this year. In fact, I never understood when people said “and then God spoke to me and said..” I always wondered what that would be like. Do you hear an audible voice? Does he just like whisper in your ear? Is it a feeling? What does that really look like? I always thought that was so neat. I also thought that God just chose people to speak to, I never envied it, just thought it was so cool and that I just wasn't one of those people. But in the continued searching and seeking after the Lord, he’s revealed himself and has spoken to me in ways I'll never stop rejoicing in.

Back to the main story, I was standing here asking the Lord how I can reach people better. I didn't know if it was writing something like this, starting a women's bible study, or getting involved in the youth at church, I just wanted to go home and get busy with sharing who Jesus is. Big or small, I wanted to do whatever He was calling me to next.

I was standing in the ocean and after I had ponder these thoughts, I turned around to the picture that you see above; a bird white as snow. Within the .2 seconds of turning around and seeing that bird, He gave me something to write about right then and there. He showed me the whitest bird ever. A bird with no dirt, stains, no nothing on it. Almost perfect to the human eye, it was the brightest white I’d ever seen. It walked along the shore line as the waters washed over the birds feet. It gave me this picture of forgiveness and the verse had immediately popped into my head from Isaiah which is the book I’m reading through right now. It says in Isaiah 1:18 this, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow;”

The waters were washing this bird white as snow just as he washes us. Now, I’m sure this bird isn’t perfect. He’s probably stolen a fish or two from another bird or even pooped on someone #NotHoly. But in all seriousness, this bird is like us. We sin, we are so imperfect and disappoint God on a daily, yet Jesus washes us clean so that we may be made white as snow. The waves will never stop washing up on the shore just as God will never stop making us clean because of his abundance in good good grace. He can take away the sins of the dirtiest of people with deep stains that even OXICLEAN can’t get those tough stains out. He can and he does it so freely because he loves us THAT much. We never have to earn the freedom to walk in his waters or receive this gift of grace.

No matter how dirty, scummy, or horrible you think your stains are, Jesus says to come as you are and be cleaned. No stain could ever taint the grace God has for you. Come to his waters, be cleaned, and see how the God of most high will rescue you from a life the world says to live, into a life that he has called you to.

x Lauren A

HEBREWS 12:1-3

"let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."