Swallowed by the Sea

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This morning I threw my sins into the sea. It felt good—really good! Of course they were just stones, not my actual sins. But Micah 7:19 provides an extraordinary opportunity that I like to take advantage of, during this time of year. The biblical feasts of Trumpets and Atonement invite us to prepare our hearts to meet the King. Jewish tradition calls this ritual “tashlich—you will cast/throw,” which is taken directly from Micah’s text.

“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

As I threw the stones, one by one, into the Mediterranean waters of the Haifa Bay, I felt the weight and shape of each one. Jagged or smooth, heavy or light, chunky or flat—each stone reminded me of the variety of ways I fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). 

It was not discouraging to deal with sin. Rather, releasing each stone, first with contemplation, then with enthusiasm, was wonderfully freeing! 

It was so freeing that I wanted to shout for joy at the toss of the final stone (I used seven, for completeness). Restraining myself, lest those walking along the beach would look my way, I felt my face brightened, smiling and unburdened. How is it that I take this miraculous, heaven-sent liberation for granted much of the time? “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1,2).

So, what’s the takeaway?  Our compassion-filled God and Father has chosen to forgive those who come to Him with a contrite heart. The gruesome execution of the Perfect Man cleanses my heart. And repeatedly, by the gift of repentance, I can be made pure and new. Is this not an inestimable gift? He bids us come to the sea, where our sins sink forever to the bottom, never to be dredged up again.

By the way, it’s an easily do-able activity that needs no religiosity. I’m drawn to the simple, physical demonstration of God’s very radical promise. He throws all my selfish, egotistical, insecure, lustful, rebellious, unforgiving, judgmental willfulness into the depths of the sea?! To the natural mind this seems too good to be true. But this is exactly what the Gospel is—the great news of our complete and permanent deliverance from the ravages of sin.

Try it some time. At any time of the year! Find any natural body of water. A small stream or pond will do. Take a few stones, with some weight. Pause. Weigh them in your hand, as if assessing their stubborn tendency to stick to your hand. Then pitch them as far and deep as you can. Doesn’t that feel good?

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