In the middle of a week where I facilitated worship breakout sessions with many talented and dedicated musicians, creative people, and pastors from around the country, my wife and I decided to take some time alone.
Since we were close to the Pacific Ocean, we took the short drive to Long Beach, California and strolled along the shoreline. The January snow-capped mountains that loomed in the distance fueled the relentless, icy Santa Ana winds that chilled us to the bone. For a while, we walked atop an artificial berm built to protect the beachfront houses from waves that at times were so large they climbed and even slightly overtook the sandy barrier. The waves came in like massive and awe-inspiring squadrons: First gathering momentum, then rolling into 14-foot tall, elongated tubes, and finally crashing with watery violence and stretching onto the beach. I caught myself thinking, “This is no day to be in the water.” The cold wind and massive waves seemed to warn and beckon people away.
Just as I thought this, a young man ran past us, a surfboard tucked under his arm. As he ran down the shoreline and eventually made his way toward the onrushing ocean, we peered out and saw 30 figures in the distant water, sitting on their surfboards preparing for their next run.
We watched for the better part of an hour as surfer and surfer danced on their boards across the waves we thought were so menacing. Even though we couldn’t hear them, we saw these wave jockeys sit in the water on their boards in between runs, talking to each other as they waited for the next wave. Truth be told, they all had donned wet suits that somewhat protected them from the cold water, but I couldn’t help but think their passion for the sport and each other also warmed them on this cold California morning.
There is a lesson for all of us that seek to live life in, with, and to God as an act of worship.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that the world is too cold, the waves of life are too big, and the water of new opportunities or challenges God brings to us are too threatening to enter.
True, there are times when God calls us to rest, be still, and wait for His leading. God doesn’t call us to be reckless, moving ahead without Him. God wants us to go prepared and equipped for whatever He sets before us. However, it’s important that when God calls us to get off the sidelines and dive into life with Him, we don’t convince ourselves that the conditions aren’t perfect enough to proceed, based on our limited perspective and unfounded fears. If we embrace our fears and misgivings rather than our strong God who promises to be with us always, we may miss the blessings of the life adventure God has planned for us.
Once, in the middle of a storm that threatened to swamp the boat he and others were in, Peter saw Jesus walk on water and heard his call to come out to him. Peter answered the call to walk toward Jesus who effortlessly danced on top of the water. When he kept his eyes on Jesus, Peter was able to walk upon the turbulent, churning waters without the help of a surfboard. But when his fears overtook him, he sank like a stone. As important as Peter’s faith was in this account, it is even more telling that Jesus rescued him and brought him safely to shore when his faith faltered.
Jesus doesn’t expect us to try to be strong and bear our burdens alone. He simply asks us to move toward Him and trust him to rescue and bring us to the solid ground even when we falter. Here is God’s promise:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
We live in a beautiful world that at times can seem overwhelming and turbulent. When God calls us to go out into the raging waves of life—in little and big ways— I pray we will run to the call like the surfer we encountered last week. In a life given to God as an act of worship, I hope we will dance across the waves of life…
‘Cause the surf’s up!
God bless you.