The other day I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a number of years. I apologized for looking like a drowned rat when I showed up at our appointed meeting place saying, “If I look like I just got out of the water, I did.” At which point she asked if I’d gone swimming and I said that I’d just gone surfing. As I tried to describe to her the incredible spiritual rush one gets from surfing, she replied, “No, I get it. You’ve got that ‘walking on water’ thing going on. I get it.”
The more I thought about her comment, the more I was struck by its correlation with the Gospel story of Peter walking on water. While surfers look like they are walking on water, there is also a bit of faith required to ride a wave. The ocean can be rough and you can wipe out. It is therefore an act of courage to trust that the wave will carry you with grace.
Point taken, I recently had a bad incident with my board. Well, in actuality two bad incidents with my board. Within the span of a few months, I was hit two different times by my board — in the head. Now, praise God, both times I was more spooked than harmed but these incidents made me seriously question whether I would keep surfing for I value my brain a thousand times more than hanging ten. But God wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily. Would it be a walk of faith if there was never an edge and the water never rough?
The thing is, bad things happen in life so I’m always on the lookout for that big wave that is going to knock me under and drown me. When I was hit recently by my board what I was most shook up about was the fear that my life, which is so blessed right now couldn’t possibly stay blessed. It was time for a disaster – some awful tragedy to knock my happiness and gratitude down a couple of notches. It seemed there had to be a mishap on the horizon to put me in my place for having a little joy and pleasure in my life.
But this is bullshit because the God I pray to each day “has plans for me – plans for me to prosper.” And yet my faith is so weak. Why would the God who tamed Leviathan not also tame the sea when I’m out there too? Sure, I can take steps to be more careful. A foam board is just as fun as a fiberglass one and much more safe. But why am I so convinced that the God I love and worship doesn’t have my back? Why do I still question that he loves me too?
So as I paddled out today, I realized, I have much to learn about walking on water for with him all things are possible. I think because surfing shows me this in tiny increments, I need to keep surfing for what is faith if life is always easy and we always know the outcome?
I hear Jesus asking me, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:32). I’m not sure God, but I know that I have to keep getting back on the board – in more ways than one.