I was at a prayer meeting on February 9, 2010 and the lord reminded me of this time a bunch of us went surfing for the day in Cape Breton. Yes, believe it or not you can surf in Cape Breton. There were probably about 20 of us, maybe more, that all set off for Point Michaud on the eastern Shore of Cape Breton. Some of us had wet suits, some of us borrowed surf boards, and I brought a kite and some Frisbees. It was a pretty good day, lots of friends, nice weather and good waves. Anyway the Lord brought me back to that day while we were praying about things like dreams and being lukewarm Christians, and getting offended about things. I had sort of a movie playing in my head of the day, and a narrator voice in my head kind of like the Wonder Years (if anyone remembers that show).
A few people went there and just spent the day sitting on the beach. That is ok, some people like just sitting on the beach. But it is not really surfing is it. You see we had told people we were all going surfing for the day but sitting on the beach is not surfing… it is more like, well sitting…on the beach. Maybe those people were not ready to surf, maybe they did not know how to swim or maybe they did not like getting water up their nose or stung by 10,000 Jelly fish, who knows. But the voice said “I’m looking for people to Surf.”
So then I saw the people who said they were going to surf. They had rented boards and wet suits. Some of them stood on shore for a while debating whether it was worth paddling out through the surf and jellyfish in the freezing cold water. But, if you are going to surf well you have got to get out there somehow and we did not have a boat to take us out so paddling seemed like the only way. It was hard, the wind catches your board a lot when you do not know what you are doing and smacks you in the face. You look kind of silly, but everyone else is battling through too so you just keep going. Eventually everyone got out past the breakers and could rest for a few minutes. So there we were exhausted, jellyfish on our face, bobbing around on a stick in the ocean. But that is not really surfing is it… it is more like, well… floating… on a stick. That is ok I guess, but now you are just watching the surfing from a different angle.
You are however in a slightly more precarious position because the wind and the waves are starting to push you back to the beach. That would be ok but somewhere in the middle of the bobbing and the sitting is the surfing. The voice said, “well… here you are but I’m looking for surfers not floaters.”
Now, I will not pretend to be a surfer. I have only gone twice. I do, however, know the principles of surfing. When you see a wave come up behind you and the water begins to lift you up, you have to start paddling, again, even though your pretty tired from paddling out there if first place. When you and your board begins going faster and faster which is actually quite exhilarating, you suddenly realize that you are now sitting on a stick on the front edge of all the power that is behind this wave. If you manage to catch the wave and stay in front of it you are faced with an important decision. Do I stand up? If you stand up, that means you are surfing. Not until the moment you stand up. It is very difficult to stand up. I was only able to stand on one foot and one knee, kind of crouching. Then the wave won. But the voice said, “well, I see I have found a surfer.”
I don’t like getting water up my nose, it makes me cough and it burns. But for just that moment, standing (sort of) on top of a wave, being propelled along the ocean by the power of the water and wind behind me, I realized something. The appearance of being a surfer is a far cry from being a surfer. The beach is nice, lots of people like the beach. Floating is ok too, some people like floating. I do not want to float and I do not like sitting on the beach. If you get on the wave, even if you are only half standing , even if you are still lying down and holding on for dear life because you are scared of standing up, something inside you changes. You can actually feel the power of the ocean and the wind working together. You are moved along by a force that is totally out of your control but if you and your board get in the right spot, you can absorb the force and ride the wave.
As I looked around, I saw that while the beach had lots of people watching the surfing, there were lots of people still battling through the waves; some people were still floating on their stick waiting for the next wave. But there were some people actually standing on top of the waves. Sometimes the wave knocked them down. Sometimes they surfed it all the way to the beach and ran in to tell their friends how amazing it was finally getting up on the waves. Then the voice said, “I want you to stay on the waves, I want you to let the power and the force of the waves push you along, don’t be scared of the water up your nose, sometimes things get uncomfortable, sometimes they hurt, sometimes they are scary. But I am in the waves, I made them because I want people to get out there and surf on them. I’m looking for surfers. When the storms come, you cannot sit on the beach, you will be swept away. When the Storms come you cannot keep floating on your stick, you willl crash upon the rocks. But if you are ready to surf, if you know what the power of the wave feels like, if you are ready to stand on the waves, you will not crash. You will not be afraid of force that caused the wave.”
The Lord is moving among us, he is stirring up winds and waters of change in our midst. He is calling us to go the beach daily with him to see his mighty hand at work. But He is looking for surfers, He is looking for those who are willing to battle through the hard parts to get to where he is. He is looking for people to stand up with his power behind them so that others might see his hand at work. The beach will only keep you for so long. Floating on a stick will only keep you for so long, at some point we must choose to follow him and stand up.