The Morning Tide


There is that moment in the very early morning, when I’m half awake and I don’t quite know where or when I am.

When the light hits only the highest places, when the heat of the day is still distant, and I’m still allowing sleep’s current to take me wherever…

It’s the sweet moment when the quiet fills my room and my soul and I can’t remember anything.

Then, the alarm sounds and it all rushes back. 

The sun rises high and shines harsh on the clutter I left on my floor and on the unkempt condition of my heart.

I’m forced to open my eyes to what still remains, day after day.

To every sleeper, mornings bring waves and waves of unwelcome reminders. They swell in the darkness, then crash up against our rock-hard hearts…

city morning

We can’t love and still keep our distance.

We can’t see and still close our eyes.

We can’t be our own god and still worship Another.  

The truth and the light hurt my eyes. Hurt my pride.

Many days, I don’t want to awaken. I want to stay in the dark comfort and turn my back on the world. I’m willing to kick my clutter aside for another day. Maybe tomorrow… 

But God refuses to yield to an inferior plan. He is not the kind of God who can be pushed aside.

With each morning tide, He crashes up onto our shores and demands to be seen.

And one morning this week, He opened our eyes to this:

Photo Source

My stomach turns over this horrific picture no one wanted to take. My anger screams out across the filthy-shiny seas that brought him there.

My heart breaks over the ways I ignore drowning people day after day.

He’s a picture of all that’s wrong on every side of every ocean.

But yet, something tells me he’s also an offering of Grace for the world, for everyone who knew his name or at least saw his photo. For me. For you. 

Grace in the form of unwelcome reminders for prideful sleepers from sea to sea.

Grace to see the sun rise another day and another opportunity to do better.

Grace to fight against the strong, divisive currents within us for another chance to love.

The alarm sounds and we can’t avoid what washes up onto our morning shores. We can’t ignore today’s wake-up call.

And if we’re willing to do more than slam the sound off, if we’re willing to really listen and  bravely lean in for a closer look, if we resist the urge to turn away, the whole thing can take us down.

And what a privilege to be knocked, face down, in the morning sands.

The sands that yield to the weight of an innocent one’s body and to the knees of repentant people. Sands that are revealing and forgiving at the same time. Sands that can be reformed and shifted and made new.

Lord, in the name of every scared soul swimming for hope, make us new…


How embarrassing to realize that we somehow missed the intense pain of other Image Bearers who live across the sea, or across the street. Or even across the church pew.

How humbling to learn that we can’t fix any of it alone.

Grace isn’t always beautiful. Grace sometimes brings death to our doorsteps, our cities, and our shores. 

But Grace, whether beautiful or not, is a conduit for hope. Will you stoop low enough to pick it up?


Individually or corporately, we can no longer afford to turn from what our oceans of sin wash up. Our world has become too small and our pride has learned to swim through the night.

But we can receive what each morning brings, with openness and humility. Willing to wake up, face the mess, and remember who we are. And bend our knee to the One who stands with open arms on every shore and in every morning’s light. 

May we remain in this posture for a while. 

May we never brush away this sand or this memory.

May we refuse to close our eyes to His Grace. 

And may tomorrow morning’s shore be different. 

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

15 thoughts on “The Morning Tide

  1. dawnlizjones September 4, 2015 / 5:56 pm

    How did you know (and of course, you didn’t) that I needed this especially today. I work as a school nurse in a middle school. What I see is many times not pretty, and what I don’t see is even worse. Sometimes I just want to run away, but where? There is no heaven but Heaven, and that would be selfish anyway. Thank you, thank you.


  2. Michele Morin September 5, 2015 / 5:58 am

    First time seeing that chilling picture I’ve heard so much about.
    First instinct is to run up to that little boy and pick him up off the wet sand.
    I need to follow that instinct for the things that I CAN change.
    Your words did their work very well.


  3. lorisprayercloset September 6, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    Oh, oh…… Thank you. What a beautiful offering of words and call to wake up! The picture was jarring but sometimes we really need to be jarred! All is grace, too any times I step over it without seeing it.


  4. Kathryn Shirey September 8, 2015 / 5:46 am

    Thank you for the reminder that we can’t just turn our eyes and pretend we don’t see. We have to open our eyes and wake up to what’s in the world and how we’re called to help.


  5. Linda Stoll September 8, 2015 / 5:56 am

    Karen … sometimes all I can pray is, ‘Lord have mercy.’ ‘Cause it’s all just too much to bear …


  6. Mary Geisen September 8, 2015 / 7:00 am

    Amen! Your words need to be shouted from the rooftops because too many of us are choosing to sleep in instead of facing the reality and many times I feel like I am included in this. I saw the movie War Room yesterday with friends and my one friend kept saying, we don’t have any time to waste. We need to do something now. She is right! We keep thinking we are waiting for the right moment to do our part but God is calling us to do more now and it is evident everyday we see the news. Powerful words Karen and ones that speak to exactly where I am right now.


  7. Beth Willis Miller September 8, 2015 / 3:40 pm

    Karen, what a moving post! I so agree with you…I do lift up in prayer all those sweet families in such dire distress and need…there, but for the grace of God go I…thank you for this poignant reminder to stay on our knees for these dear people. Many blessings to you.


  8. Anita Ojeda September 8, 2015 / 11:06 pm

    Ah, you have captured the essence of the problem, my friend. May we all dig deep and uncover our blindness, our prejudices and our will to ACT!


  9. Judy Turnbull September 9, 2015 / 7:48 am

    Your words were so good for me today! I especially liked this line: “But God refuses to yield to an inferior plan. He is not the kind of God who can be pushed aside.” I love that our God is relentless in pursuing us. I love that He continues to draw us back to himself. Thank you for your post.


  10. hopeful50 September 9, 2015 / 9:49 am

    Oh Karen, this: My heart breaks over the ways I ignore drowning people day after day. Beautiful post my friend.


  11. sarahgirl3 September 9, 2015 / 4:09 pm

    Powerful words. I feel the need to move, to help!


  12. pamecrement September 9, 2015 / 4:24 pm

    Significant words that are so well-spoken and convicting for us all! Thanks, Karen!


  13. Holly Barrett September 10, 2015 / 6:44 am

    May tomorrow’s morning shore be different indeed. Beautiful post, Karen.


  14. Kristin Hill Taylor September 10, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    We can’t love and still keep our distance. Isn’t that the truth?! Such a beautiful, thought-provoking post for me. Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.


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