Over recent days I have led another marriage retreat for soldiers and their wives and children. It did not hurt that this retreat was on the Florida panhandle. The sands are white; the Gulf is often translucent; the dolphins hunt just a few meters out into the water and you can see them in the first hour of daylight and the last hour of daylight, almost without fail. Their rounded dorsal fins emerge from underneath, slicing through the sea with ease, and one can lose himself in the view.

One morning before we began to equip the married couples, one of the chaplains said, “Jon, let’s pray.” And we huddled up in a moment of prayer for the weekend, for God to till hearts and to use us for his purposes. My wife snapped a photo of the moment, it seems.

One afternoon thunderstorms appeared to be forming for their brief refreshing cameo and a small rainbow scene formed above us. I was captured by the scene of the bird flying below the rainbow.

Below are some of the couples we were able to minister to.

I walked the beach with my wife and son. We saw the countless fowl, some fishing, some frolicing, some waiting for sunbathers to throw them scraps.

As I drove back to post I crossed the river for my umpteenth time and felt nonetheless a current of kinship with Huck and Jim (yes, I know they are literary characters, but they live in the lives of those of us who understand), so moved was I by the river’s inexorable flow to the Gulf.

I am quite tired now but thankful, and prayerful that something was said, or done, or perhaps lived out whereby the sovereign hand of the One to whom we will answer may grip these soldiers, their wives and children, and we may come to understand and appreciate the God who authors the seas, the skies, the slice of the dolphins’ fins, the colors of the gulls’ wings, the pastiche of colors in the rainbow before a Florida thundershower, the way people’s feet leave temporary prints in the sands before the waves take them out to the sea again.

I am so thankful to have this ministry and to have a wife who’s indispensable to any success I may’ve had, my co-laborer in the faith, the one whose hand I hold on the beach each and every time.

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