6.28.2015

Look at what you CAN DO - instead of what seems impossible.

Last week we watched two surfing movies, and a few nights later I said to Dennis, "I want to learn how to surf!"
You should have seen his response!
As a 33-year surfer himself, he was ready to hop out of bed and drive me to the beach right then so we could become surfing buddies.
I laughed, but secretly thought, "It would be pretty cool to be a middle-aged surfing couple! An oddity to be sure!"
He asked me a few questions and started making plans for my surfing tutorial. As I listened to him, however, I began to feel differently about my dream of winning The Seniors Surf Cup.
You see, I envisioned myself gliding through a long, beautiful, glassy wave on an old-school wooden surfboard - totally relaxed and carefree.
I want to experience the holy grail of surfing - the tube.

There is just one problem. Several problems, actually.
A) I cannot swim
B) I have to plug my nose when I go under a wave
C) I have weak upper body strength
D) My right wrist is weak and in constant pain because of carpal tunnel, and often numb
E) I do not have the best balance
F) I panic when I am caught under water and cannot find my way out

And last time I checked, swimming, the ability to breathe under water, upper body strength, balance, and the ability to endure wave-pummeling are required elements of surfing.

An odd silence greeted me after I listed all of these inhibitors for Dennis until he finally replied in a flat voice, "Well, I suppose you can sit ON a surfboard and I can push you through the water. How about that?"

How about that? How about THAT?!?
How embarrassing!
I am sure in that moment he was very glad he avoided the shame of watching his wife towed in by another surfer while plugging her nose to get through the waves.
Sheesh.

Like many things in life - my dream collided with reality.
My dream is lovely - caught in the barrel of a wave, enjoying an experience of which very few will ever boast.
My reality is not so lovely. Swim lessons, money, leaving my children to get in the water, physical pain, constant thrashings in the waves, waiting for waves, falling - a lot, and hundreds of hours of practice. Sigh.
Why can't I just grab a board, hop in the water, stand up, and SURF? Why can't it be that easy?

And that is when it hit me.
Don't we think the same way about the Christian life?

We listen to powerful sermons, testimonies of amazing men and women who changed the world for Christ, martyrs who died for the sake of the Gospel, and countless stories of those who walked in faithful obedience, accomplishing great things for the Lord, adored by generations of believers - and we want to be just like them!
We want godliness and steadfastness, we want to be the Daniel's who will never bow to the idols, and the Christian who will praise God in the face of death.
And then we remember what it took for these men and women to become Hall of Fame Saints.
And our dream collides with reality.
Sickness, death, persecution, abuse, neglect, rejection, slander, betrayal, pain ... these saints SUFFERED - and it was through their suffering that they became great. Not because they did anything to merit glory and praise, but because their suffering forced them to depend on a holy God who requires 100% full obedience and surrender from His children.
A life fully yielded is a life fully used.
And don't we all want to be used to do mighty things for God? Of course!
But what if the mighty things require us doing 1,000 little things first?
Will we do them? We will do them without complaining or grumbling? Will be be faithful in the daily tasks the Lord sets before us, no matter how mundane? No matter how seemingly insignificant?

I want to surf. I want to fly over a wave with full abandon and feel the pleasure of God's creation wrapping itself around me and spraying in my face.
But am I willing to learn how to swim? Hold my breath? Dive? Workout to increase my strength?
If the answer is yes - and I am fully committed - I will become a surfer!

Isn't the same true in the Christian life?
If I am willing to die to self, love others more than I love myself, live at peace with everyone, exhibit self-control, patience, and gentleness, forgive those who hurt me, meditate on the Word day and night, pray without ceasing, seek the Lord daily, and trust Him in all things, walking in obedience and faith as I keep my eyes fixed on Him while running the race that leads to eternity - and I am fully committed to doing so - won't I know God better, have an increased and unwavering faith, and look more like Jesus?
Yes! The answer is YES!
I will not wake up tomorrow morning more mature in Christ any more than I will wake up a professional surfer if I do nothing to move towards spiritual maturity TODAY.

We want excellence in so many areas of life.
God commands us to be holy as He is holy, and to be perfect as He is perfect.
Excellence is a worthy and Biblical goal. But it does not just "happen."
We are saved by grace, and there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, but holiness and sanctification are a continual, life-long pursuit as we seek to shake off the sin that entangles us and replace it with righteousness and truth.

The only thing that can keep us from attaining holiness is US.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, and equips us for every good work.
We are not perfect when Christ calls us to Himself, and many rough edges must be made smooth, but in the end? Long, beautiful, glassy streets of gold will roll under our feet as we enjoy the glories of heaven after we hear those coveted words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master."

Do not give up, Christian!
Spend more time looking at what you CAN DO than looking at what seems impossible,
and then - go live life abundantly ... just as Jesus intended.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith ... Hebrews 12:1

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12

No comments: