So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
Southwest Florida has gotta be a great place to live. For the first time in a long time, Judy and I headed back to Southwest Florida for a visit. I am a Florida boy—born and raised in the Northeast corner of Florida in Jacksonville. Judy is a Georgia peach raised in Valdosta. If you’ve driven to Florida down I-75 you have been through Valdosta. So being from Florida and close to Florida, it is naturally a place we like to visit.
We spent the week down in Fort Myers Beach and had a great time. With the exception of Labor Day weekend it wasn’t too crowded and even then we were able to find space to avoid the crowds. Several times we hopped in our rented Mustang Convertible and drove around. Fort Myers Beach is built on a narrow strip of land and there is only one main road that runs through it. We would turn out of our condo and either go left or right—there were no other options.
On Saturday of Labor Day weekend, we would see these places where dozens of cars would be parked beside the road and of course that peaked our curiosity. We just had to know what all those people were doing. Did they know something that we needed to know—to see? Well, that Saturday evening we decided to drive down to one of those spots. Earlier that day it was just packed with cars and we imagined it had to be a beautifully secluded beach. It might even be worth exploring the next day. So off we went. It was lightly raining and when we neared the spot where there had been dozens of cars and now there were only a few. Paradise was within our grasp.
We parked in the small sand parking lot and noticed there was a sign that said Dog Beach. We figured that was the name of the beach. Maybe it was shaped like a dog or dog’s leg or something. Even without an umbrella we started walking. It was a rather small path, wet from the rain. Then we came to an opening to what appeared to be a large bay. We met some folks who were heading back to their car and we asked where the beach was.
They told us we would have to wade through the water, follow a small path and then go around a small peninsula and there would be a beautiful beach. So…off we went wading through water, carrying our shoes, and walking a path through the woods. Along the way, we came upon a few folks heading to their cars and they all had dogs. How about that? We normally aren’t slow to figure things out but today wasn’t one of our better days. We kept walking till finally we came upon a small, not particularly beautiful beach. It wasn’t on the Gulf but rather on the bay. There was a person with, you guessed it, a dog. There was also a couple out in the water with, you guessed it, a dog. Hmmmm…I was starting to connect the dots.
I asked the couple with the dog if they were from there and they said no. And I asked them about what was so special about this place—that we had seen dozens of cars here and thought it must be special. And it was…if you owned a dog. You see, it was in fact a dog beach. All those dozens of cars with many more dozens of people were there for one reason—it was a place where their dogs could be dogs. That was it. It was only paradise if you had a dog that enjoyed playing in the water. And, for a lot of people, that hit the spot.
I left that day only a little impressed with the beach and more than a little wet and that was ok. What made that beach special wasn’t for me, but it was for a lot of other people. It taught me fresh and anew that the beauty of something really is in the eyes of the beholder. With that came the renewed lesson that I should be slow, real slow, to judge another person’s opinion. Hmmm…that just might be a game changer.
I know now that when I go by the Dog Beach and see all those cars that there are a whole lot of people just beyond the tree line that love their pups. And being a dog lover who just happens to be dog-less for now, that is pretty awesome. Instead of going by and thinking “Look at all those beach lovers,” I will go by and say, “Look at all those dog lovers.” Maybe before we assume or think we know all about a circumstance or relationship, we need to explore and figure it out and we may come to a whole different conclusion.
Need some help? Well, the One who made us all has it all figured out. In fact, He reminds us in the Bible that every person is made in His image and He wants each of them to come be a part of His family. And then, He made that possible by sending His Son Jesus to pay for our sins. When you find yourself befuddled with someone or a particular situation, just check with your Dearest Daddy…leave it resting with Him. You can, because He has this.