The thought of having a beach hut appeals to me for some reason. It must run in the family because son Nick and his wife Anna, who are lucky to live by the sea in Scarborough, have clubbed together with friends to rent a beach hut for a year. In some parts of the UK the cost of renting or purchasing a beach hut is significant, placing them beyond the means of most ordinary folk. It seems strange that a beach hut might cost more than a house in other parts of the country! One of the most expensive I could find in a quick search of the Internet happens to be next to a restaurant in Shaldon where we ate last week when visiting my parents in Devon. This fully equipped but compact holiday residence was for sale couple of years ago at a staggering £245,000!
On the back beach in Teignmouth it is a different story. This is a beach at the mouth of the Teign Estuary. One side of the back beach faces the sea and bears the brunt of the winter storms, which were so severe last winter that I was surprised to see any beach huts still standing. The other side of the beach faces the estuary and looks across to Shaldon, where it is more sheltered. This is where the doors of most of the huts open out onto the beach, and where conveniently the sun sets over the estuary. Several of these beach huts were in use one evening last week when we were walking on the beach. What intrigued me, beyond the individuality of the huts, was that all of the huts still showed at least some evidence of battling the winter storms.
When I looked at the storm weathered huts on the back beach at Teignmouth I was reminded that following Jesus is not a breeze, but involves facing many storms, some of which have the power to damage and potentially flatten us. Like the huts on the back beach we may find that after a storm we stand unevenly, paint peeling, and in need of restoration. Even without any storms a beach hut needs regular maintenance.
While our imperfections stand out as evident as the scars that Jesus willingly received on our behalf, I am encouraged that Jesus does not expect us to look like the pristine beach hut on sale for £245,000. I don’t think that He wants us to resemble in any way the row of apparently homogenous, beautifully painted, locked up beach huts I walked past in Dawlish, just a couple of miles down the coast from Teignmouth. Jesus knows and accepts that each one of us is a work a progress. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what level of spiritual maturity we may think we have achieved, there is still work to do. Jesus isn’t finished with any of us yet. I am relieved about that.
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:3-6 and 9-11 NLT)