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Surfin Safari

Dear Friends,

The summer after I graduated from high school my family moved to Huntington Beach, California. It was a fun place for a teenager to live, and I quickly threw myself into the Southern California lifestyle. We lived a couple of miles from the beach, and I was young and in somewhat decent shape physically - so surfing seemed like the perfect summer activity. The problem was, surfing turned out to be a lot harder than it looked, and I didn't really have the determination to stick it out. The result is that my surfboard quickly transitioned from a piece of athletic equipment to an item of decoration in my room.

I've often thought back to those days of trying to learn to surf - especially the excitement of sitting on my board, waiting for the next wave to come. But it wasn’t long before I understood one of the first pieces of advice that I got from the surfer friend who tried to teach me to surf: when you see a set of waves coming, swim towards those waves. That may seem like common sense since, you ARE in the water to surf, and waves are a key part of that. But as someone who was actually confronted with that choice, I can tell you that when a large set of waves is coming at you, your first instinct is to turn away and head toward shore. Experienced surfers know that you actually need to swim toward the wave, and try to go under it or over it. If you turn and head toward the shore, the wave will catch you from behind and flip you off your board.

I can speak confidently about this happening because I chose the wrong direction too many times - and the result was that I ended up under the water, completely disoriented as to which way was up. That's why the second piece of advice my instructor gave me was: when you find yourself overwhelmed by the wave, and disoriented, follow your leash. For those who have never been surfing, surfboards come with a leash that’s attached to one end of the board, and then the other end is attached to your ankle. It’s done specifically so that if you find yourself tumbling around under water, you can get oriented by following the leash up to your board, which will be floating on top of the water. So, when a wave knocks you off the board and disorients you, the best thing to do is follow the leash to the surface.

I've been thinking a lot about those lessons in surfing this week because I've realized that life is a lot like surfing. Waves regularly come at us, and when they do we often want to turn and go the other direction. But when we do that, we can get caught from behind, overwhelmed by the situation, and quickly lose our bearings. However, if we turn towards the challenge, and go through it, we can come out okay on the other side. And we can do that more easily when we realize that God has already given us the “leash” we need to hold on to when we get disoriented: the Bible.

So when we're feeling overcome by the waves of life, we need to hold on to God's Word because it will lead us to the surface. And just like following the leash on a surfboard, if we follow God's Word, it will lead us to a place where we can refill our lungs and get the proper perspective on what's happening. The psalmist puts it this way in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.” God's Word - the Bible - shows us the way to go.

So today, let's grab a hold of the “leash” God has given us. Let’s not wait until we’re underwater, let’s read His Word with the confidence that He will use it to give us the direction, encouragement, hope, and perspective we need to get through whatever waves we face in life.




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