I love swimming and going to the beach. This may have something to do with growing up in the Caribbean and being near beaches much of my youth. It was not always that way. As a small child, I had lots of phobias. I enjoyed going to the beach with my parents and playing in the shallow waters, but was terrified of big waves. As I grew, I began to wander out further and further into the water, but was always frustrated that the waves broke so violently before I could get out to the “calmer” water. It was great to have my dad take me past the break point and out to a place where I could stand and gently bounce around as the water undulated around me. Eventually, though, I wanted to go out on my own and I had to deal with the waves myself.
At first, I tried the method that most of us use when dealing with waves. I simply jumped when the wave came my way and hoped that I could jump high enough to get over the wave and find my footing again. While that worked for a while, inevitably, a huge wave would knock me down and I would lose my footing and become disoriented. On a few occasions, I was mildly injured on rocks and coral formations that I bounced into as the wave crashed over me. I am not sure who suggested it first (probably my father), but there was another way to deal with those huge waves. It involved holding your nose and ducking under the wave when it arrived. At first, this seemed like the dumbest thing I could imagine. Besides, that meant putting my whole head under the water and that was something I dreaded almost as much as the big waves.
At long last, I got frustrated enough about being beat up by the waves and decided to try this “crazy” method myself. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. As I held my nose and ducked under the wave, I experienced the beautiful sensation of the wave simply rolling over me and then it was gone. I popped up right where I had been standing and I wasn’t any worse for the wear. It was almost an enjoyable experience. Now I could go out to the deeper water without fear. Not long after that I learned an even more important lesson. If I stood in just the right place and watched the wave arrive and then jumped out just ahead of it, I could almost become a part of the wave as it washed me ashore. I was actually riding the wave to safety.
Life is a lot like the beach. For most of us, we have to deal with waves of one kind or another almost all the time. Some we can see coming from afar off and others catch us unawares. There are seasons of life, when it feels like we are in the middle of a storm and the waves keep rolling in one after another and we cannot see any end in sight. Occasionally, we are dealing with a tsunami and feel like we are going to drown. It is a points like this that I have to remember my other father who took me out past the breakers. He also taught me how to duck under, how to hold my nose and to choose to get my whole head wet rather than trying to jump over the wave. It was also that father who taught me that I might have to jump out in front of a wave every now and again and actually let it propel me to where I needed to go.
My heavenly father knows every wave that I will ever face. He has given me all the wisdom I need to deal whatever may come my way and he stands ready to pick me up when I forget and try to jump when I was supposed to duck under one more time. Because I am so forgetful and tempted to do things on my own, I have found it helpful to memorize His words so that I will be prepared when the next wave hits. I would like to think that I have better vision now and can see more of the waves as they approach. The reality is, however, that problems in my life have a way of sneaking up on me like the wave behind the wave that nobody anticipates in time. At moments like that, all I can do is to call on His name and he brings to mind all that He has taught me – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man”, “No weapon formed against you will prevail” and “For you do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with your weaknesses, but you have one who has been tempted in every way, just as you are”. What a great God we serve.