Surfing can teach you a lot about our relationship with God.
While I will prove that statement in this blog, I write it from secondhand experience. I spent three years in southern California while going to seminary and while I frequented the beach, I never attempted to surf. I almost did once…but chickened out. I guess I saw the Jaws movies one too many times.
Now that I got my confessional out of the way, onto the meat of this blog.
God’s sovereignty vs. humanity’s free will. How to harmonize these two biblical truths has been debated for centuries. Some folks elevate God’s sovereignty to the level where they believe He is in complete, meticulous control of everything to the point that some folks in that camp question whether or not human beings actually have free will. Others swing the pendulum in the opposite direction and elevate our free will to the extreme.
So who is right? How do you harmonize God’s sovereignty and humanity’s free will? Not just in theory but in the real world? Consider this analogy….
If you want to surf in the ocean — and do it well — there is work you have to do. You have to exercise and get it shape. You have to buy the right surfboard and wax it. You need to take lessons or get mentored by someone so you can learn how to recognize a “surfable” wave as well as learn how to “pop” up off your board without falling off of it. Then ultimately, you have to drive out to the beach, get out of your car, and paddle on your board out into the ocean.
Those are all of the things you need to do. Those are your responsibilities. Those are the things in your control. Those are your roles.
Well, actually there is one more thing you have to do at that point: wait. Wait for the wave to come.
Those are your roles.
God’s role: wave-making. In The Purpose Driven Church Rick Warren writes: “Surfing is the art of riding waves that God builds. God makes the waves; surfers just ride them. No surfer tries to create waves. If the waves aren’t there, you just don’t surf that day! On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it, even if it means surfing in the middle of a storm.”
I think where human beings — you and me — get in trouble is when we confuse our roles with God’s roles. We screw things up when we try to be wave-makers. That is something only God can do. And we screw things up when we neglect the things that God requires us to do to prepare ourselves so when the wave comes, we are able to ride it and make the most of it.
I currently live in Michigan so my opportunities to surf this summer are zero to none. But that isn’t really what this blog is about anyway. As a husband, father, pastor, son, and friend to the various people in my lives, what are the things I am responsible to be doing in preparation for what is ahead…and am I engaging in these roles to the utmost of my abilities? And what are the things that only God is responsible for? And is there anywhere where I am confusing those two things?
I need to ask myself those questions, and I hope you ask them too.
***Join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. I will be preaching on some of the most famous words of Jesus, where He says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” And yet, Jesus is saying something much more profound than simply encouraging us to relax more than we do. Plus, Joe Vercellino and his band will be leading us in worship. April 15th. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***