Hey y'all! 

So, I haven't been able to keep up with blogging like I had hoped! It shows to take a lot more discipline than I thought and especially with school starting I want to use any time I have to catch up on it! So many cool trips have taken place this summer and I have sweet photos from each trip and no place to really share them - which is why I made this blog - so I better share some of those photos with you all! 

About a month ago already (wow, how time flies), one of my best friends, Michael (yes, we share the same name haha! It may sound like I am referring to myself as my best friend but I assure you, Michael is a real guy - you'll see some photos of him!) and I took a quick little road trip to the Central Coast of California. With working full time this summer, it was a little tough to actually plan out some trips so it came all together quite quickly. 

On short notice we packed the car and headed westward to the seas of Big Sur! First, I should mention that before this I had never been to Big Sur before. I had no idea what to expect; the only expectations in my mind were from photos I have seen all over Instagram. To my surprise, Big Sur captured my heart a lot more than I thought it would. Initially, the first sights captivated me. . . here are some of those first sights! 

Shortly after pulling along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway, my heart began to burst with excitement and joy. Not only were the hues of the sea crashing against the steep coastal cliffs captivating me with it's light teals and dark indigo parts, but the foggy clouds looming low claimed my focus as I watched the coastal winds move thick fog across the landscape with great ease. I was sold. . . little did I know, I would become even more sold the further I went. 

Of course, we had to stop at McWay Falls and, of course, it was incredible! But that's not what won me over. It wasn't the picturesque views like McWay falls that captivated my heart so excessively. It was a mixture of things. . . but first check out these photos and I'll touch more on what made Big Sur so awesome for me. 

Driving along the coast, the road all of a sudden went into a deep forest and then back out to rolling hills and pastures much like you'd see in Fresno. Then it would turn back and you'd see the rocky edged coast line. . . It was stunning to watch as the landscape would make drastic changes within minutes. We headed down a road in the pastures and ended where our campsite for the night would be, in a deep thick and green forest of Coastal Redwood Trees. If you know anything about me, you'd know that I am a SUCKER for pine trees. The look, the feel, the smell; everything about pine trees moves my heart. I like to imagine myself as a pine tree from time to time, deeply rooted, standing tall with confidence, constantly growing even in times of drought. . . If I were a Pine, where would I want to be? Before visiting Big Sur, I would have told you Yosemite or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. However, after seeing the vast and beautiful coastline of Big Sur, I am convinced that Big Sur would be the place for me. . . 

After setting up camp we headed down to Pfieffer State Beach. We were stunned by the sights but also stunned by how hard it was to see the sights. I don't know, it might have been the day we went. It was just really windy and the little nook the beach was situated on was perfectly placed where sand was being blown multiple directions. One main direction that sand went was directly into our eyes. It was a painful trek across the sandy dunes searching for shelter from the pelting sting of the sand. Finally we found a place to hide from the crazy wind nestled between some huge rocks. Once there, we decided to just relax and take it slow. We decided to take it all in. We decided to have some quiet time reflecting on the beautiful sights we had seen and were staring at in the moment. Reflecting on how infinitely beautiful creation is and how it just draws us so much closer to seeing the true beauty of the Creator. 

After some much needed R&R with Jesus on the beach, we headed back for the night. Along the path we saw that motorized scooter marooned in the sand and it made us laugh for a couple reasons. For one, we thought it was general common sense that there's no way a motorized scooter could scoot across the sand to the shore. Another reason why we thought it was funny is because it was abandoned and left on the path which means one of two things - the person got up (or were carried) and went back to their car or towards the beach. . . I don't know, but either way we really found it entertainingly amusing. But beyond that aspect it really began to make me think how this is a great spiritual reflection in our life sometimes. 

Now, let's say this scooter is hypothetically a representation of our brokenness and sin . . . we come to a point in our lives where we believe the lies of Satan regarding our brokenness and we begin to believe that the sin defines who we are and that in order to live, we NEED the things that continue to make us broken. Now hear me out, we are all broken people and we will all remain a broken people for the rest of our time here on earth until we that day where we will all be made whole for eternity with Christ. We are all sinners and that will never, ever change . . . but at the same time, our identity is not rooted in our sin and brokenness allowing it to be something that defines who we are. Our identity is firmly and deeply rooted in Christ. 

Living with the mentality that our sin is our identity is like driving a scooter in the sand. We begin to believe the lie that we NEED the scooter. That we cannot live without the scooter. That we cannot see all the things we want to see, do all the things we want to do, and be all the things we want to be without the scooter. A dependence on the scooter becomes strong. We feel like we don't want to need the scooter, our desire is to give the scooter up and one day be able to walk but the body wants and needs what it wants and needs. My body, despite how my heart doesn't want the scooter, NEEDs the scooter. It's reality, it's who or what I am. . . 

Sounds silly, huh?

However, this is exactly how a lot of us treat sin or have treated sin. We carry our brokenness along with us riding it like a scooter, believing that we need it or that it defines our identity. Sometimes we feel destined to be forever stuck to the scooter, we feel like we will forever struggle with our sin for the rest of our lives and we lose faith and hope that we could one day find freedom. We lose trust and faith in Jesus' promise that He has already conquered the grave overcoming death and forgiving us of our sin. We lose sight of the promise that He will empower us to help us overcome our sin. We feel stuck in our sin. Most times we feel like we don't want the sin and brokenness and we wish to give it up but at the end of it all, the flesh wants what the flesh wants and we sin anyway . . . My flesh NEEDs the sinful desires fulfilled. Not only that, but we unintentionally begin to depend on our brokenness or sin the more we believe the lie that we need it. We try so hard to live life carrying along our sin under the belief that we need it and that we will never be able let go of it and find freedom. We hold on to the scooter. . . we hold on to sin. 

But there comes a point where scooting through the sand will leave you marooned, abandoned, and left for dead. Thats Satan's scheme. He wants to maroon you and destroy you with your sin that is dragging you down. He wants you to lose hope. He doesn't want you to reach the finish line of freedom. . . he wants to trap you. And if we stay on the scooter then we have given the devil the victory in our lives. . . 

Only when we realize the truth behind why Jesus died on the cross will we understand that we don't need the scooter (or the sin and brokenness). While yes, we will forever fall short of the glory of God and we always will have sin in our hearts, we can trust in the saving truth of the Gospel that Jesus died so that we don't have to carry this sin and brokenness along with us like a scooter in the sand. We are able to embrace our true identity, a child of God, free from condemnation and fully forgiven. This is our identity, not the one of lies saying that our sin and brokenness define who we are. 

When we let go of the lie that our identity is defined by our sin then we are able to embrace our true identity and leave the lies behind to destruct themselves. When we let go and seek God, we gain more than we bargain for. Jesus gives us the strength, the same power that overcame death, to be able to step up from the scooter seeing how marooned it has become in the sand and we can leave it to die. We can walk away from the scooter knowing it doesn't define us nor do we need it and we can fully walk into freedom. We can recognize our true identity and leave the lies that our identity is defined by our sin and we can fully depend on God's strength. We can leave it all behind because of the fact that Jesus died for us so that we can do just that. Jesus meets us where we are, marooned in the sand and left to die, and He invites us to step away from the scooter so we can trade our sorrow for joy and we can move forward, closer to Him. 

Jesus invites us to let go of our sin that has defined us for so long and embrace our new identity. One that says "I am a child of God fully forgiven and relentlessly loved". He invites us to move beyond our sin into freedom and He invites us to move closer to His heart.

Leave behind your scooter of death and embrace the Savior who brings life. 

Anyway, it may be far fetched, but I found myself encouraged by this little idea that God planted in my mind. . . I also found myself convicted. But I can save that explanation for another blog post.

Back to why I love Big Sur. . . I love this place so much because I love Pine Trees and I also love the ocean! And here, there are both pine trees and oceans. In fact, there are pine trees on the shores of the ocean. . . It literally captivated me so much. The sights, the smells. . . but what made me fall even deeper in love with this place is the conversations that were had, moments where sand is blown in your eyes, times where you feel so overwhelmed with creation, the memories that were made with special friends, and the awesome ways God speaks to us through silly things no matter where we are. I love Big Sur and I will surely be back to visit soon. In In the meantime, here are more photos. I am going to end my writing here for this post . . . but I hope you enjoy the photos! If you have any further thoughts, feel free to share! All thoughts, ideas, and beliefs are welcome to be expressed. You know what I mean? . . . ; ) 

Until next time,

Mike


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