It was my first attempt at paddling out in overhead waves. They were huge to a 14-year-old grom who had only been surfing a year. Lines of whitewash belted me backwards and it seemed literally three paddles forward, two paddles back. I wanted to give up, turn around, belly it to the beach. It was a classic paddle of shame in front of other, more accomplished, surfers.
Perseverance is a critical aspect of surfing. Without it, there is no maturing to surfing bigger, better waves – and the only way is to embrace the pain!
So it is in life, and God knows that you and I need help, as the Bible makes clear in James chapter 1.
James urges us to see clearly the following:
- See the opportunity to learn and grow. Consider it joy, pure joy, when troubles come your way. This is God’s great refining opportunity. We grow far more from our challenging times than from our easy times. No surfing experience is wasted when we learn from it. Every mature surfer has a lifetime of troubles they’ve processed. In the same way, no painful life experience is wasted if we entrust our troubles to God.
- See the supply of wisdom. When trouble comes your way, don’t just hope there is some miraculous resolution where God shows up at the end. Wisdom is needed and available along the way. It’s so good to know God is generous. He doesn’t hold back wisdom as we struggle with our limited human insights into our trouble. How good is it when some local legend helps you to navigate the reef, the channel, the line-up? God is even more on your side to give wisdom.
- See that you are wholehearted in your focus. God’s generosity doesn’t mean we can be slack in seeking His support exclusively. There are so many voices clamoring for our attention, but God’s alone is truly worthy. You can’t be halfway out to a big wave spot and start second-guessing alternative options after a seasoned local has given you the best advice. That will only get you into trouble. Are you willing to abandon all other options and truly want God’s way no matter the price?
When you next face a struggle in the surf, see the opportunity to develop your surfing and draw on the advice of an experienced surfer.
And do the same when you face the trials of life! Look to grow and seek the advice of God and godly people.