Maybe you've been like me and cramming a year's worth of Christmas music into this holiday season -- it's like going to a buffet to eat enough food for a whole week, but it's breakfast only -- eventually you'll get sick, but it tastes so good... Anyway, I was once a connoisseur of Christmas music, before Spotify and Pandora rendered my extensive collection useless. I still love it, and listen whenever appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate, i.e. - before Thanksgiving). So if you are like me, you've likely heard the name of this website sung in your ears a dozen or so times. I'll post the lyrics below in case you need a refresher:
O Holy Night The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior's birth Long lay the world in sin and e'er pining 'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices. O night divine O night when Christ was born O night divine, O night, O night divine.
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. O night divine, O night, O night divine
It's true that the name for this site came from "O Holy Night," specifically while singing this song during a Christmas service a couple years ago. It's a beautiful phrase that invokes a visible image of hope -- the sun rising on a new day full of possibilities, possibilities we can enjoy because of the arrival of the Savior of us all. I've expanded my own usage of the phrase for this site, using it in conjunction with surfing (as in surf breaks) along with that same image of hope and pursuit. "Yonder" is also an old fashioned word my grandfather said a lot, and I like the idea of tried and true ideas meeting with the constant renewal of fresh thinking -- like the mountains and the sea. So there you go...
This particular Christmas season I've been paying a little more attention to the words of the songs we sing though, and finding that many of them carry deep meaning, despite being tossed about our ears along with advertisements and flippant songs about Santa (don't worry, I like most of those songs too). Take the aforementioned song for instance...
Long lay the world in sin and e'er pining 'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
This is essentially expressing the destitution of mankind without God, pining for a Savior to rescue us from our weary state. I see this far too often -- men and women grasping for air in their pursuit of meaning, replacing a connection with God with a million different things and people. To step back and think about why and what we spend so much time seeking after, it all just feels so desperate, which is exactly what this song conveys. Even as a person who believes in the Savior, I find myself in this cycle on a regular basis; even today -- Christmas Eve! Lately, I've been working on this Skater Dad video more intensely, and it's just really consumed my life. Today and yesterday I've had so much skateboarding on my mind that it's kept me from enjoying the moments that really make for good Christmas memories: family time and simple and quiet moments of peace. Instead I was far away, wondering what trick I would do next and plotting how to get it on camera.
And so we find ourselves in this state, weary and lost...but then, in the dark of the night and out of chaos, stars lead us to the place where we meet the Savior, the solution: Christ the Lord! We accept Him for who He is and are driven to our knees in awe and worship. After that, nothing is the same. The bright light of another day carries new meaning. We have hope that there is more to this life than our frantic pursuits. There can be purpose, purpose that extends beyond what we can see and hear and feel.
We can be better people, like Jesus even, as He nudges us and renews us daily in that direction. He teaches us to love others and bring peace to those who know none. What we spend our time doing can change lives: "Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother." We can see humanity for what it is, and not only empathize with them as fellow sufferers, but show them the way out! The burden of life alone, without God, drudging through sin -- it's all abolished in His name!
And again, we are driven to praise, but this time as a "grateful chorus." As one church we proclaim, "Christ is the Lord!" This is the gospel, wrapped up in a song sung by Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, and on the same radio where the name Jesus goes unmentioned the other 11 months out of the year. Christmas is a beautiful time when things like this happen, but only if we slow down long enough to listen, and allow the weight of a song sung in worship seep into our hearts, and lead us to the Savior whose birth we celebrate.
Seventh grade was the peak of my Star Wars fandom. That was the year Episode 1: The Phantom Menace came out, and my dad had managed to score sweet midnight-opening tickets (this was a new thing back then) without waiting in line thanks to a brand new theater in town (all my other friends' dads waited in line for hours and they didn't even get to see it until the following day). The event was marked on my calendar for weeks as excitement built for what was the most anticipated movie event of my life, and though many were disappointed by the film, I have to say I wasn't. Seventh grade was the perfect age for pod racing, kung fu-esque lightsaber battles and, of course, Queen Amidala. Even Jar Jar Binks didn't bother me that much. All in all, it was a more-than satisfying opening.
Fast forward over fifteen years later and we find ourselves in a similar air of excitement for Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Though now, fifteen years wiser, I've taught myself to keep my expectations for movies lower, which usually results in better overall enjoyment. Besides, Episodes 1-3 left most of us feeling like we had just been through a bad breakup, as one of my friends poignantly put it. Time heals all wounds though, and here we are, ready for another shot at love...
My unused ticket...
I marked no calendar, tried my best to ignore the rampant barrage of Star Wars merchandising, and did as little as possible to educate myself about the movie. I read no 'making of' articles and watched the trailers days after they came out. I still have very little idea who or what BB8 is. I did however, pre-purchase a ticket, but only because my good friend Robb invited me -- 1AM on Friday the 19th. Not quite opening night, but the crowds of light saber-weilding fans would have bugged me anyway.
Despite my best efforts to remain a skeptical old grump of a fan though, every time I saw a trailer I couldn't help but get a little bit excited. And so as opening night approached, I did in fact look forward to watching the force awaken at a theater near me.
But you know what? I missed it. I wasn't late or anything, missing the epic "BAA-ba-da-daah!" at the beginning that I'm sure thousands cheered for all over the world. I just plain missed it. Would you like to know why? Because this happened to me:
Our second daughter was born the day before Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened up (though they had those bogus "pre-screenings," so I'm not sure when it really actually opened), and so I forfeited my ticket to sit in a hospital and help take care of my injured wife and wailing daughter. Of course it was the right decision and that's not my point -- I'm just feeling a little sad that I'm one step behind half of the Western world and so I'm writing about it to process things. Thanks for reading my self-indulgence.
Some time along the second night of my daughter's existence in the open world, I was in and out of sleep and trying to think of some reason to write this blog post besides myself. It was then that I started thinking about the very apparent differences between my two daughters, even at such a young age. The oldest stayed up the first several nights crying...a lot. The youngest sleeps...a lot. Their eating habits are different already, the way their faces look, their eyes, how much hair they have. I can already tell that they will be unique individuals in many ways.
It's kind of like Episode 1 and Episode 7, right? (There it is.) Different both in my approach and, hopefully, quality (although I've already stated that I still enjoy the former). And so there's my big connection -- similar events in life with different approaches can still have the same result -- enjoyment, fun, hardship, love. It's all part of the adventure of life, in this galaxy and one far, far away.
As Thanksgiving has been approaching, naturally most of the radio/tv/web ads have been concerned with trying to get me to buy something, checking items off my Christmas shopping list as quickly as possible so I can get to the important stuff, like watching Elf and drinking egg nog. What has been a little unique about this year, though, is that I think Black Friday, once the hallmark of every retail store's year, is disappearing.
The ads started about a week ago, with most of the online shops claiming to provide Black Friday-calibur deals early. Amazon.com of course lead the pack in this endeavor, who, by the way, have kicked out the greatest pillars in the collapse of Black Friday with their Prime Two-Day Shipping (and in some cities, Two-Hour Shipping!); for who would bare the crowds of a busy mall when he or she can wait mere hours and get the same item for cheaper? Last year was the first time Prime shipping really affected things I think, which I realized as I daily saw mail carriers sprinting through my apartment complex to deliver the plethora of packages. Maybe this year I'll set up a stand with little cups of Gatorade for their surely thirsty throats.
The brick-and-mortar stores are responding by simply opening up earlier and earlier, to the point where "Black Friday Doorbusters" are happening on Thursday, giving families just enough time to eat an early supper before heading off to the malls. But what about their employees who have to arrive hours before the evening opening? I suppose they are mere casualties in the frantic rush to take our money just a little faster than the other guys (but still not faster than Amazon). Today I heard a radio ad for Kohl's, revealing their intention to open on Thanksgiving day at 6pm, with fervor citing this year as the "Best Black Friday Ever." So good I guess it has to start on Thursday...
There is hope though, for just a few ads before that one I heard Ross/TJ Maxx/ Marshall's boasting that they will be closed on Thanksgiving so their employees can spend time with their families. And this is where I hope most stores will land in the near future -- realizing that stealing our holiday to make more money may draw in some, but the majority just can't stomach the loss of something so sacred in exchange for mere objects -- it's like trading turkey for tofu just because it's a good deal. Besides, if Amazon keeps up their trend in speedy shipping, it may literally take longer to go to Best Buy for the Playstation 6, and thus the final nail in the coffin of big box stores will have been dealt.
But wait...why is this cynical post about the problems with American consumerism titled "A Lament for Black Friday?" Wasn't Black Friday the ultimate example of everything that is wrong with the system, and so its downfall can only mean good things for families and time and togetherness and pretty much everything but turkeys themselves? Yes. But if I'm being honest, as I watch Black Friday disappear I can't help but find myself a little...sad.
My first Black Friday purchase. I'll never forget how a grown woman cut me in line at the Wal-Mart before I got it.
I remember not ten years ago, sitting around after a hearty Thanksgiving supper -- the men were enjoying football, the kids playing hide-and-seek, and the moms were checking the paper to scope out the deals for the next day's shopping endeavor. I remember how they made their game plan that night, and (sometimes) early on those fateful Fridays, shook off the food coma to spend some time shopping...together. Yes, sisters, cousins, aunts and sometimes even sons and husbands would go out together to buy things for each other. A quick lunch at the mall food court (again, together) and then a couple more hours of shopping before they would finally part ways to go home for some much-needed rest.
As I got older, I would sometimes venture out early to catch a deal or two; other times easing my way into the afternoon, voluntarily forfeiting the really good deals for leftovers, but still catching the last remaining hints of holiday buzz that wafted through the air like crumpled receipts and stray plastic bags. Yes, it was cheesy and capitalistic and not really important in the overall course of human history, but it was fun. And so, as I watch those days I once took for granted slowly dissipate like the exhaust of a tired delivery-person's overworked truck, I can't help but be a little sad.
In the end it's probably a good thing. Black Friday had become a day that had gotten a little out of hand when fathers started skipping Thanksgiving to camp out at Best Buy for their kid's electronic wishes, and way out of hand when people literally died in Wal-Mart stampedes of desperate shoppers too eager to save a few hundred dollars on a television. But before it's gone, I wanted to write a little lament for the excitement, fun and togetherness that such a day had brought to those who were able to handle it well, and now sit at their computers alone to click away their Christmas lists.
Maybe with all that time we save driving from store to store we can spend it together in even more meaningful ways! Like board games or playing football or a family folk jam. Or maybe we can even catch a surf! Here's to a repeat of 2013 and the Thanksgiving Swell that I still miss...just a little bit more than Black Friday.
It had happened by accident a couple years prior... We had season passes to Mt. Baldy and decided to get one more day in as winter was ending and the little bit of spring Southern California gets was approaching with haste. I grew up riding the icy mountains of North Carolina, but after only two seasons of West Coast powder, had gotten too accustomed to it. That final day in Baldy was a throwback to my roots, which I quickly realized as I tossed myself off of a little kicker into what looked like soft snow, but was anything but soft...
A couple hours later we were exiting the mountain and heading back to town -- Baldy was a bust. It was the first hot day in a while in Los Angeles, and some friends were going to the beach, and that's when it hit me: I could feasibly snowboard, surf and skateboard in one day. God bless California.
I managed all three that day, but only barely, as the skatepark was dark by the time I got to it and I was only able to do a few carves in the bowl to claim completion. And so, a couple years later and just one month before the birth of my first daughter, I decided to pursue the California Trifecta once again, this time for reals.
Mellow wave on a not-so-mellow day.
Months of planning led to a group of guys ready to ride the elements with me, though about a third dropped out the day before. Even I had stayed up too late the night before, and almost tried to eat cereal with sour milk, hardly preparing me for the hardships that lie ahead...
First up, surfing at Hammerland, the northernmost tip of Manhattan Beach. It was a small, but glassy day, which meant the Wavestorm was my board of choice. The rides were long and the camaraderie strong, and so after about two hours of fun in the water (as well as a bonus skimboarding session, so fourth sport), I went home for a snack and then a quick skate at Culver City Skatepark.
Tim getting air in the best pool I've ever skated.
This park has been one of my favorites for years, mostly due to the perfect pool and drainage ditch-style banks, along with a great kicker-to-flat. Unfortunately, the park was riddled with scooters and skaters, and so there was little room to shred. Still, I got in a few curves and a little street skating with my fruit-booting buddy Tim, before pressing on to the final sport, and the home-stretch.
It was a long ride to Mountain High, complete with good friends, a Chick-fil-A visit and not-a-few punk songs. Needless to say, by the time we arrived I was nearly exhausted, but had come too far to turn back now with the sweet taste of completion wafting on my tongue like the icy fall of artificial snow. All dramatics aside, it was a tough session at Mountain High, and I got a little cranky when I couldn't land the tricks I knew I was capable of. But after a solid four hours of riding, I had done it -- the Day of Boardacalypse had come to a close, and I survived.
Taylor was the only one to hit this curved box.
Check out the Trishredathon video below for the full details. A big thanks to Russell, Mitchel, Justin, Tim S., Taylor, Tim J. and Tyler for joining me along the way, and Korey for planning. A special double-thanks to Mitchel for completing two out of the three sports (three out of four, if you include skimboarding). He's been training on the skateboard, and so next time I'm confident we will stand side-by-side as finishers in one of the greatest challenges Southern California board-riders can undertake. We are blessed to live here, and blessed to shred the gnar.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant.He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:4-15)
I want to focus on that last verse: "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
It's interesting that the people who receive Jesus' word do so because they have a noble and good heart. This means their heart has to be in the right place before hearing the word. How does that happen? Part of it we can accomplish, and part of it is up to God. I found a great article on the subject here, which in summary says that we can prepare our hearts for connection with God through a fixed commitment to the Lord, humbling ourselves before the Lord, and constantly reminding ourselves of what God has done in the past. It's a short read, so I suggest checking it out.
The second part, for me, really emphasizes the need for prayer in evangelism. We can shout truth all day long to an individual, but unless God is involved in the encounter, working in the receiver's heart, it is all for naught. And so, as we go out to share the truth of the gospel, we MUST remember to soak our endeavors in prayer.
Finally, I'd like to point out those last few words: perseverance produces a crop. To be fruitful in our Christian life, making disciples of others, requires great perseverance.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
So how do we persevere? A single-minded and long-term commitment to the Lord, discipline, and regular communion with God and His church are three key elements. The aforementioned article has some good things to say about our commitment to God, as well as a book I'm currently reading, The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I highly recommend the book, as it will certainly challenge your view of discipleship in a good way.
Discipline is one of my least favorite words, but I can't help but accept that it is a big part of the Christian life. I don't know about you, but whenever I have time to spend with God (in His word, through prayer, writing, etc.), there are always a dozen other things I could be doing instead; and sometimes would rather do. However, regularity in our time with God will inevitably lead to regular encounters with God, and when you have encountered God, it changes things. But without the discipline of setting aside time with God, it will rarely happen by itself.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
An excellent source on creating positive habits in pursuit of God for me has been the Every Man a Warrior series. I highly recommend it. (This post feels a bit like a giant advertisement for all-things-Christian, doesn't it? I promise I'm not getting paid by any of these people!)
And then we must encounter God through his church in order to persevere. This can mean a variety of things outside of traditional church attendance (though that is certainly included), but essentially we must connect with God's people in some capacity and with some regularity (again, requiring discipline). Through the body of Christ, we receive accountability, encouragement and correction when we may be tempted to stray; not to mention the fun of hanging with other Christians! We are also challenged in our faith and do the same for others as we all struggle together through life in our pursuit of God.
I've met Christians before who do not seem terribly interested in church-going, and there are seasons when this may be called for; but I encourage you to make sure you are connecting with other believers in some capacity and with some regularity. My personal favorite is through surfing! (Don't know any? Find a Christian Surfers group here.)
This was supposed to be a short post on one verse, but turned into something else...sorry! (but not really...) If you have any thoughts, comment below!
I recently had an awesome surf session with the Wavestorm, my first time riding it in months, and so I thought I'd dig up this old post about why I love such a seemingly unlovable board. (Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog, with a few additions.)
I bought one of these for my wife a few years back and, on a smallish day, I took it out instead of my short board. I have to say I was blown away by how good this 8-foot piece of Taiwanese foam actually rides...
It's the $100 Wavestorm from Costco, and though it takes a certain lack of self-consciousness to ride one, I can't deny its prowess, though I'm pretty sure that was an accident on the manufacturer's part. I promise I'm not paid by Wavestorm or Costco or some Soft-Top-Board-Riders Association, but I recommend this board so often that I thought I'd write a blog about why I have such a soft spot for this soft-top...
I Catch More Waves
It's big and light, so once you've figured out your weight distribution (some tips for that here), you'll be able to catch almost anything, and I mean anything. If you look behind me in that picture above you'll notice that the water is literally flat. I actually caught waves that day with this board -- they were tiny, but I rode them with a smile on my face and foam under my feet.
It's Surprisingly Maneuverable
I took this to a point break one day and the waves were beautiful long right-handers that rode like a skate ramp. It's got three fins, so it rides like any thruster, and ends up being a surprisingly responsive board. I was able to work the face like a short board, marking this as the day I fell in love with the Wavestorm.
Bottom turn on this big blue beast.
My Leash Never Breaks
The board is thick, and sometimes feels like you're riding some kind of kayak-shovel hybrid. As a result, it's pretty difficult to get a good duck-dive. So when the surf report was inaccurate one day, and 4-foot waves were actually 10-foot waves, I showed up with the Wavestorm and found myself in some tricky situations.
I had to ditch the board a few times when some particularly massive closeouts came crashing on me; and though the force of those waves felt like an aquatic herd of horses, my leash never broke. I'm honestly dumbfounded by this one, as the leash is little more than rubber, rope and some Velcro at the end, but I've had several name-brand leashes break under less pressure.
You Can Return Anything to Costco
You'll see the kayak-shovel effect illustrated below, which is one of the few downfalls to the Wavestorm. I noticed that, over time, these nose-dives were causing the board to bend (particularly when I would lend the board to
inexperienced riders). Well, one day it broke in half, even though it has three stringers running through it.
Got my nose...
My wife had had the board for about two years at that point, so I thought I'd cut my losses and trash it, keeping the leash, stomp pad and a couple fins for future use. A friend then suggested that I try and return it to Costco, given their extremely loose return policy, so with nothing to lose I gave it a shot.
I literally showed up with a two-year-old broken board that looked like I just pulled it out of a trash can, no receipt and minus the Costco card I purchased it with...and walked out with $100. I mean, how are they still in business?!
So that's why I love the Wavestorm, and why I'm recommending it to you; particularly if you're a beginner, or someone who frequents a weak break and is looking to have some fun. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, maybe you can ride fifteen-foot waves with it! Check out this video and decide for yourself if this is the board for you, or just another piece of mass-produced junk:
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"
But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:14-21)
In this passage Jesus is finishing up using shepherding as a metaphor for his role as Messiah in relation to the Jews and the world. As I read, a few things struck me: first, the relationship we can have with Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is the same that Jesus has with God the Father ("my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father"). That's an amazing statement! The communion the Son of God has with his Father, a connection words have difficulty explaining, is the same we can have with Jesus. This aspect of our relationship to God is multi-faceted and deep, both complicated and simple, and could take all the blog posts on the internet to flesh out; but I want to emphasize right now that, if you feel far from God, know that an intimacy human language cannot describe is possible with Him through Christ.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Second, God honors sacrifice ("The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life"). Humans have a tendency for self-preservation, a trait you can't blame us for having, but at times can seem repulsive. Media portrays this well as the selfish man who is only out for his own good is often starkly contrasted against the selfless hero, ready at a moment's notice to throw himself into danger for the sake of others. Consequently, the self-preservationist is the one who gets eaten by the dinosaur or crushed in the earthquake by a falling building, and the hero gets the girl.
As a society, we celebrate the selfless hero (whether or not we exemplify those traits in real life), and I can't help but think that part of that is because God, who loves the Son who sacrificed his life, put that quality in us. The danger here is to wait for the "big" moments to realize that ideal, when I would argue that the truest form of sacrifice comes in daily laying your life down for God and others. Love your wife when you don't feel like it, pay attention to your children when you'd rather look at your phone, do a good job at work when the boss is not looking, read the bible when you'd rather watch TV -- these are the practical sacrifices of a life surrendered to God that will impact those around you, and lead to a life of character, a life that honors God.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Finally, I take comfort in the fact that people were conflicted over Jesus' words ("At these words the Jews were again divided"). Sometimes I read the sayings of Jesus and think, This sounds crazy. Do I really believe this? But it helps to know that the people standing there, listening to the same words but also seeing the person of Jesus had the same struggles. Two thoughts on this: first, if God came to earth and sat in front of you and started talking, don't you think that this infinitely higher Being would sound a bit strange? Imagine what a Person who exists outside of time, who has been there since the beginning, who was the beginning, would say! I'm sure the words would melt our ears and blow our minds with their majesty and depth! But this did happen, and we have his words here. And sometimes that don't make sense...and that's okay.
Also, after some particularly difficult teaching by Jesus, many disciples left him. Then, going to the Twelve, whom he chose as his inner circle, Jesus has this discourse:
"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:67-69)
What a beautiful response, and one that can ring true for us too. When following Christ gets hard, and his teaching doesn't make sense, or maybe his voice seems absent altogether -- we are left with a decision of where to go -- whether to continue following or not. But I pray your answer and mine in these difficult times is the same, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You are the Holy One of God, the Messiah." Though they don't always make sense, these are the very words of God, to which we must cling in all confusion and doubt. They are life and truth, and if you have trouble accepting that, I charge you to read the scriptures! I think you will find the words soothing and regenerating, light in a world of darkness and the very voice of our Good Shepherd calling us to follow him.
We've all been there: waiting for a set to come when a standout approaches, waaayyy past the break. Everyone paddles frantically to beat the looming destruction, but sometimes it's just too far and you find yourself going backwards over the falls, taking a behemoth on the head, or trying to duck dive six feet of whitewater. Either way, it's a losing battle.
The next thing you know you're in the washing machine, tumbling around underwater as if Triton's chariots are stampeding over you, hoping you have enough breath and wondering which way is up. The good news is that you can survive the blows of surfing! And here's how:
Don't panic: Surfing is dangerous and waves can be unpredictable. Still, staying calm will allow you to assess each situation with a clear mind, and prepare to escape accordingly. You will also save energy you would otherwise waste trying to fight a losing battle against the power of the sea...energy better used for swimming to safety after the wave has passed.
Take a good breath: If you see a standout approaching and know you're going to get mauled, take a deep breath and hold on! If I'm paddling out on a particularly big day, sometimes I'll take a lot of deep breaths to stretch my lungs. (Here's a good post on increasing your lung capacity.) Also remember that you can probably hold your breath longer than you think, so when your body is tempted to panic, don't!
Hang on to your board if you can: Floating is always good, right?! If you can hang on to your board through the washing machine, do it. It'll keep you closer to the surface, which always means safety.
Let the wave pass: Don't go all Gandalf on the ocean...let it pass! Curl up and let the washing machine do what it wishes. You'll be surprised at how quickly it passes, and also save energy for your ascension.
Climb your leash (if you have to): If you get so thrashed that you don't know which way is up, reach for your leash and start climbing. The board is floating and will lead you to safety.
Prepare for the next wave: You may have been thrashed by the first wave in a set of three behemoths plowing through the lineup. Be ready for this by taking a deep breath first, and then checking for what's ahead. If the shadow of another wave looms overhead, dive deep and go back to step 3.
Don't panic!: This is here twice because it's that important!
The ocean is powerful and trying to ride its waves is something that should be handled with care and respect. Any surfer who has been out on a stormy day or a big swell knows this well. In case you need a refresher though, here's a video on just how powerful a wave can be:
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.