by Sandy Scheffler


“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2

The moment we came up for air from our busy spring season, we headed to the coast to reconnect and refresh as a family (our own version of R&R). After a warm, overcast week, the sun came out on our last day like a gift from heaven. We enthusiastically claimed our plot of beach with scattered sand toys, flip flops and carefully laid beach towels. After thoroughly sunscreening our girls, I positioned myself on my towel in giddy anticipation of soaking up a week’s worth of sun in this one beautiful day.

What a day it was! Our girls could never get enough time building in the sand and playing chase with the ocean waves; Tim and I took turns napping and jumping waves with the girls. It all ended perfectly with a visit to the beachside shake shack and poolside burgers back at our hotel. (Go ahead, let your mouth water. I’ll wait.)

Although I had halfheartedly sunscreened myself, that night I noticed I was quite burned. Ouch. My discomfort progressed into pain as I spent the rest of the night sick from sun exposure, I assume. (Or was it the peanut butter shake/bacon cheeseburger combo? That sounds gross now that I think about it...) Either way, I was in agony. The next morning I couldn’t imagine flying home in such a nauseated condition.

Curled up on the uncomfortable couch in our room, I prayed something like, “God help me; I’m such an idiot!” Seriously. Not only did I have an excruciating sunburn, but I also realized that I didn’t build sandcastles with my girls for one second because I was focused on getting a week’s worth of tan in that one glorious day. My mother’s heart was crushed wondering how could I waste such precious time with them on something so VAIN???

I was heartsick, repenting, wondering if I will ever learn these lessons. Sun-kissed skin is a gift from our Creator, I’m certain. But this was a much deeper issue being revealed in my heart. How many times have I foolishly focused on selfish desires that have little lasting value, while neglecting experiences with others that will last for eternity?

So I wonder if you’ve ever had a moment like this: shocked at your own foolishness, impatience, pride, and self-centeredness. God has been so faithful to lay a foundation of my identity in Him, so I can bravely confront these areas of my life that are still coming into alignment and maturity.

We all have these areas that still need God’s sanctifying touch -- some seen, some still unseen. Will you be brave enough to let Him go there? I know from experience: He is trustworthy. In the context of perfect love and total acceptance in Jesus, there is no shame, no reason to hide! Soak His light into every dark place -- no sunscreen required!