During training I endured ten to twelve hour classes and tests daily. Failing a test meant packing up and heading home, so the stakes were high. I clung to God through it all, and when I could squeeze in a surf session I sped to the beach. I didn’t check the surf report to see if the wind was blowing hard on-shore, or clean and off-shore, or the waves were big or small. I craved the board under my skin, the sun on my back, and vowed to surf no matter what. As the saltwater washed over me, God spoke to my heart about serving him.
Matthew 20:28, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The core of Christ’s purpose was to serve, and in the Bible it is stated countless times in countless ways that as Christ imitators we are called to serve and love other people for him. Surfers check the waves and surf reports frequently to contemplate if the conditions merit a session. If there is too much wind and the waves aren’t perfect, surfers wonder if it is even worth paddling out. God showed me a similar trend with serving, where at times if the conditions weren’t just right in my life, I struggled in helping others.
In Philippians 4:11 Paul wrote that he learned to be content in whatever situation life found him in. I am challenged by this and realized that sometimes I get so far into my own situation, which is never going to be perfect, and become overwhelmed by emotions and feelings attached to the junk. As a result, I have sometimes been guilty of feeling too empty and too tired to care about others. The voice of the enemy is eager to steal any joy he can and whispers, “Is it even worth serving when you are sad? You should be the one that should be served.”
But I know I am not called to be controlled by my fluctuating feelings, and I have never regretted helping someone in need. No matter what is going on with me, the moment I leave my situations and feelings behind to serve someone else, I feel better. I have always found joy in putting someone else’s needs above my own. It can even be therapeutic, as I cannot count the number of times that volunteering has put my trials into perspective. David penned in the book of Psalms that “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” just as when I serve my own troubles melt away.
And like serving, regardless of the conditions, I have never been sorry I paddled out, because the scent of foaming, salty sea spray mixed with sunshine and the breeze is impossible to bottle up and replicate. No matter what the conditions of the waves, this elusive scent exists, and the only way to experience its refreshing effects is to be there, in the water, paddling and duck-diving, skimming along on the surface of the sea. No matter how much time has passed since I last rode a wave, and no matter how tormented I find the state of the ocean to be in, its grip on my heart and soul remain, and there I am always at peace; at home enveloped in the pockets of the water.
I will surf no matter the conditions, and serve God no matter the conditions.