Surfing is…floating around on a foam board in the middle of the ominous ocean, enjoying wipe outs and swimming around with sharks, jellyfish, and unknown creatures of the deep. This was my perception of surfing until I visited my brother in Virginia Beach one summer. My husband and I had just separated and I was going through the most painful experience of my life.
I had no intention to ever go surfing. I had been para-sailing, kayaking, and white water rafting. Surfing was never on the agenda, until my brother informed me it was. We got up at the crack of dawn one morning to meet some guys who give lessons. It was way too early to be out of bed, much less floating around in the ocean. Surfer Dude (I don’t remember the instructor’s name) gave us a lesson in the basics. I tried to pay attention, but I was just hoping to survive. It had been years since I had even been in the ocean.
I hopped up on the long, foam board Surfer Dude gave me. The ocean rushed over me faster than I could catch my breath before going under. The salty water stung my nostrils as I returned to the surface to wait. And wait. Who knew surfing was a waiting game? I was hopeful. You kind of have to be as a novice surfer. You have to trust someone else to tell you when it’s time to paddle. You have to be willing to wait for their cue. “Here it comes! Here’s a good one!” Surfer Dude would say. My heart raced, my arms and legs ached, my nose burned. Why do people like this “sport” so much again? I just didn’t get it. Then it was time. There were a few moments of complete silence, then “Paddle! Paddle NOW!” I paddled as fast and as hard as I could. The wave lifted me up. I was flying across the ocean! Now, if I could only stand up. I clumsily moved my right leg up and went from my knees to barely standing. The thrill of flying across the water, close to nature and to God, was indescribable. Surfing is one of those things you just have to experience before you really get it. If I had given up or ignored Surfer Dude’s cue to “Paddle NOW!”, I would have missed one of the best moments of my life.
During the quiet moments of that first time surfing, I began to reflect on just how majestic, creative, and absolutely amazing God is. I thought about the beginning of the book of Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth. In Genesis 1:10, He calls the gathering of the water “seas”. He gave us the seas to “rule over and subdue”. What an amazing gift. The beauty of the ocean made me reflect on God’s love for me and how carefully and wonderfully everything in creation was made. At the same time, a wave of pain washed over me. The ocean was an amazing gift, but how was I going to get through this pain? God answered. He reminded me of Ruth from the bible. She was in tremendous pain after losing her husband. She had a choice. She could accept the opportunities God gave her and follow Him alone or she could give up. She could lose hope and lead a miserable life of complaining and pity parties. She chose to persevere and God blessed her with His best for her. I realized I could either “paddle now” and keep going or give up, refuse to wait, and miss the opportunities waiting down the road for me. I chose to paddle.
Will you choose to paddle now? Meditate on this:
“…Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and protector of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2, HCSB