When I was in college and through my mid-twenties, I spent a lot of time surfing on the central coast of California. Surfing is an amazing experience. If you’ve never surfed before and you have the opportunity to do it, go for it. Although, after hearing this story, you might change your mind. Still surfing is amazing!
Generally, the central coast has waves that range from 3-7 feet in height. And most days the waves are 3-5 feet. Which is perfect for me. But every once in awhile a storm will come through and create some much larger swells. On this life-changing day, my friends and I were surfing in 10-13 foot swells.
To give you a visual, think about a basketball hoop. The rim is at 10 feet and the top of the back board is at 13 feet. So picture riding a mountain of water that is somewhere in that range. Or you can picture a mountain of water that size crashing down on you!
Now it’s amazing if you are on the wave and riding that little mountain. Not so amazing if you are inside the mountain getting tossed around.
Getting Humbled By The Ocean
On this day, we paddled out and I ended up catching a smaller wave and riding it for a little while. After getting off the wave, I paddle out and dove through the waves until I was able to catch another 10-13 footer, but this time I didn’t ride it well and ended up wiping out and getting thrashed around by the wave.
If you could put yourself inside of a giant washer machine and then turn it on, this is about what it would feel like to be tossed around by a 10-13 foot wave.
And this is where the trouble began for me. I was under for between 8-12 seconds before I finally could fight my way to the surface. An 8-12 second window doesn’t seem long, but when you don’t know when you’re going to pop up, 8-12 seconds feels like an eternity.
When I finally pop up and look out at the waves, there is another huge wave coming my way. Before I can even react it’s crashing down on my head. Again I’m under for what feels like forever, but this time I’m beginning to panic. I’ve lost all my air, my energy is gone and I’m beginning to fear I might drown.
Surrendering My Way
I finally pop up and again look at the waves coming my way. It’s the same situation. The wave is moments from hitting me and I know I’m gonna drown. My legs are exhausted, my lungs are empty, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive this next wave. The flight or fight response doesn’t work to well in the ocean when you’ve already worn out the fight reflex!
At this point, I remember saying, “Jesus help me.” just before the wave hits. As I say this, I either hear a voice or God implants a thought, but I hear turn around, stop fighting.
So in that instant, the wave hits me and the thought hits me. Fortunately, I’m able to grab my board and as the wave hits me I let it push me forward toward the shore. Instead of fighting the wave I chose to get pushed back to shore.
I eventually crawl onto the sandy beach and sit there for the next 30 minutes in a daze while my friends ride the waves. The whole time, grateful that I did not drown that day.
Trusting God’s Path
God taught me an amazing lesson that day. He taught me trusting his path, is always the better option for my life. In that wave, I needed to turn around and follow his plan. I needed to stop fighting for my way out of the situation. Instead, I need to turn to what he has for me and ride his plan. When I do this, my life does not feel like I’m drowning.
Instead, we need to turn to what he has for us and ride his plan. When we do this, life does not feel like we’re drowning.
If we are going to fully engage our lives and God’s plan, we have to quit fighting him. Instead of waiting until we are desperate to turn to God, we can learn to turn to God in all things. Drowning and struggling is what happens if you wait too long. We just need to surrender to God’s leading. Sometimes it will be away from the big waves, other times it will be into the big waves.
As you think about this story and circumstances in your own life, please take the time now to write down 3 areas you need to better engage God and to quit fighting the messages and direction he is giving you. Please share your thoughts below.