During the 1960’s there was nothing more exciting than surfing for a teenager: Beach Boys music, parties on the beach and fun, fun, fun. Surfers dared to be unique. They acted and dressed different. Surfers wore pants with holes in the knees and T-shirts with surfer logos. They drove converted vans with surfboards on top. Surfers were so cool that I wanted to be one. My quest to be a surfer was foolish and I made a few mistakes along the way. Looking back, I discovered life lessons all guided by Scripture: Philippians 4:6-9. So, let’s go surfin’!
Lesson 1: Why Use A Battleship when A Surfboard will do? To surf, you need a board. Our beach had small waves so surfboards were short and light. I bought a board used in Hawaii that was nine feet long and weighed at least seven tons. We nicknamed it ‘the battleship.’ People on the beach laughed when they saw me coming. In the water, other surfers avoided me.
Good preparation beats frettin.’ Nike says, “Just do it!” God says in Philippians “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Lesson 2: Are you doing too much paddlin’ and too little surfin’? Do you know how much energy it takes just to paddle out to the surfing area? (Especially with a battleship.) I huffed and puffed and thrashed my arms, only to have the next wave come too soon, pick up the surfboard and fling me back to shore. When I finally arrived to the surfing area, I was too pooped to surf.
Is your ‘work at it’ too large and your ‘faith in it’ too small? Frank Sinatra sings, “I did it my way.” God says, “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds.” (Verse 7)
Lesson 3: A sleeping surfer could get stung. After reaching the surfing area, I took a few minutes to rest. One time, I woke up, rubbed my eyes, looked around and saw the biggest jellyfish in the world. So much for teenage coolness as I screamed and fell off the board. I set a new speed record swimming to shore. The surfboard took care of itself.
Do you know when to relax and when to be alert? We should work at having a better relationship with God in order to set our priorities straight. Then we rest peacefully in order to be more alert. “And now, dear friends, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.” (8) Strengthening our relationship with God through prayer, Bible study and church involvement are key ingredients to an improved outlook in this world and the next.
Lesson 4: Waxing your board beats breaking your gourd. After finally getting into position, I was ready for my first ride. I could picture myself hangin’ five, maybe ten. For non-surfers, I’m describing the ability to stand on the front of the board and curl either five or ten toes over the edge. (I may have achieved hanging – one.)
The ‘Battleship’ was in position and I paddled like mad to catch the next wave. I did it! “Man, this is easy,” I thought. Then, I stood up. Did you know that a surfboard should be waxed? Have you ever tried standing on a ‘slip n slide?’ I slipped and then slid off the board. So much for hanging ten.
A willingness to prepare can save a lot of despair. God says, “Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Lesson 5: How do you steer this thing? After applying at least three inches of wax, I went out again, caught a wave, stood up and stayed up. But now I faced a new problem: “How do you steer this thing?” My ‘Battleship’ was bearing down on some poor schmuck while I helplessly shouted: “Look out!” The poor fellow on the other board stepped back just as my board landed and I flipped him high enough in the air to qualify for a pole vault competition. They asked me to leave the beach that day.
A willingness to get up after failing is the crucial ingredient for success. Never, never, never give up! “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing.” (V9)
Lesson 6: Shootin’ the tube makes a happy surfer dude! Finally, I was learning to actually surf. There are few thrills that compare with catching a wave and riding it all the way to the shore. Surfing is ultimately a combination of preparation, patience, a never-give up attitude combined with a deep love and respect for the power of the ocean wave.
Could this also be the secret of living a godly life? A combination of preparation, patience, a never-give up attitude and a deep love and respect for the power of God? Once you get the hang of it, there is no thrill that can compare with totally surrendering your life to God. Nothing! Not even surfing.
The right journey is always worth the sacrifice. God says, “And the God of peace will be with you.” (V9) Surfing may or may not be for you but deepening your relationsip with God is always worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it there is no thrill that can compare.
Here is my surfer dude prayer: “May the wind of the Holy Spirit be at your back and the waves of opportunity tall as you surf and serve for God!”
So, what are you waiting for? Surf’s Up!