When Grace Comes Like Roses and Leopard Sharks

roses beach Gods grace - Laurie WallinI just needed God to rock me in the ocean waves that day. To feel the depth and width and hight of him. To let him hold me, buoy me.

The sun warm, the water wrapping all of me, I feel a small smooth something brush across my face. Catching it, I find it’s a rose petal, pink and delicate. How did this end up here? I wonder. How did both of us end up here? Perhaps it needed to be near God today too.

And what happens next takes my breath away. 

One, two, five, ten, fifty… rose petals as far as the eye can see. Red, fuschia, yellow, white. I can smell the sweetness of them over the salt sea air, there are so many. Thousands drifting in a current all their own, riding the swells as if this was the most normal thing. Eyes scan the shore for an explanation. There must be a garden nearby, I think. Something in me needs this to make sense, but there’s not a rose bush anywhere for hundreds of yards in either direction. Not a single one.

Tears mix with wonder and ocean water. Not only is God vast and deep and rocking this girl’s heart, he sends roses. Inexplicable roses. The people swimming nearby marvel with me in surprise and joy too. I wonder what they’re going through. Because even in my own need, I know someone else here needed God to send flowers today too. He’s that big, that good—he can use the same beauty to meet the needs and joys of every seeker in this ocean embrace.

The wave of colors moves north along the shore. I already miss it.

Suddenly my eye catches a shadow moving a few feet away in the swell. I squint to see. It swims slow, swaying back and forth. I make out a spotted pattern along its nearly five foot long back.

A leopard shark.

Fear. I swim slowly toward shore. There’s another shadow now beneath. And two more. Four of them swimming along the sea floor. I look around. Why the petals and now the sharks? A woman swims up in snorkeling gear. She says Isn’t it beautiful, the way they swim together? I ask how it is she’s here on purpose with the sharks. She says They’re docile, they’re just enjoying the water like you.

I relax, stay still, but the heart pounds. I watch the powerful primitives below as they approach, turn and swim away.

A lone petal floats by on the surface. Sharks beneath. Water stretched over the horizon and around me. It’s all grace: the unmerited favor of God.

God is not big, friend. He is unfathomable. He is awe-filled power and inexplicable beauty and rocking water and warming sun and assuring people. The inspirer of sand castles and songs nobody knows but our own hearts.

He’s big enough for us. He’s bigger enough for us. I sought him and he showed up. He proved true his promise:

I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. (John 14:18 NLT)

We can trust that today.


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  1. Lori Baldridge says

    It’s been a “show-me-your-glory-Lord” kind of month. Thank you for sharing the beautiful word picture, Laurie..

    • says

      I’m glad we could be on that “show me your glory, Lord” road together. Here’s to keeping our eyes open so we can see him every place he’s showing up!

  2. Nicco Cobb says

    His perfect love…never misinterpreted or misunderstood, pure and excellent and deeper than any ocean. Great photo in words!!