For my brother’s wedding, my parents rented a beach house in Carpinteria for the entire family. The house was older, yet gorgeous. It was decked out in nautical décor, as you would imagine a beach house to look. The best part, though, was being able to walk out the backdoor and have direct access to the beautiful sandy beach.
One day, my family decided to take the sea kayaks out. I’m not sure if any of us had any experience, but we went for it anyway. It was hilarious watching family members get set up in their kayaks and paddle out only to immediately hit the breakers and flip. This seemed to be the pattern for most.
I looked beyond the breakers and could see the sparkling ocean calling to me. There were seals, dolphins, and even whales in the depths if you went far enough. I had to do it. I grabbed a kayak and set myself up. After seeing all the previous failures, I expected that I, too, would flip or at least get very wet. I didn’t care. I just had to go for it.
The only piece of advice I got was to hit the breakers straight on. If I hesitate or have second thoughts, the kayak would most likely tilt and turn diagonally, causing the kayak to flip. Ok, I can do this. With thoughts of seals and whales floating in my mind, I determined to get out there at the risk of getting completely drenched.
I got in the kayak and began paddling hard straight towards the breakers. Wow. The waves look a lot bigger when you’re actually in the water! No matter. I got this. I paddled harder as the waves came crashing down on the kayak, expecting to flip at any moment. Before I knew it, I was in the clearing! I made it!
It was so worth it too. The water was amazing. I just gently paddled around, observing the seals popping their heads up here and there and seeing an occasional whale off in the distance. It was pretty surreal.
As I have thought about this experience, it continues to come up as a picture of what our walk of faith is like with God. There are the people who hang out on the shore, watching other people succeed or fail. Maybe they’re just lying down, catching some sun. These are the believers with a pretty complacent faith. They like things comfortable and don’t see God’s purpose for them as being worth the journey and suffering they may have to endure to get there.
There are those who brave the waters, only to be caught up in the breakers and give up. These are the believers who know God has something more for them, but they didn’t realize that walking out their faith comes with a price. Perhaps they didn’t realize how difficult the journey would be. Maybe they misinterpret the difficulties as God saying, “Don’t go that way!” For whatever reason, they give up and return to what’s comfortable.
Then there are those who stop at nothing. Perhaps they fall a few times—or a lot! But they continue to persevere until they reach the depths—their purpose, the promises of God. These are the believers who have vision and understand the goodness of God, but they are not naïve to the risk they are taking. They know the journey will be difficult and they will make mistakes, but it’s all worth it as they pursue God’s purposes for their lives.
Several days ago, I was pondering how this analogy works for many of life’s circumstances. It’s not just our faith, but really anything that is worth pursuing. If it’s a worthy goal, it’s going to be hard. There’s going to be struggle. Here are some examples using the shore–>breakers–>depths model:
Comfortable marriage with codependent tendencies–>conflict, awkward conversations, marriage courses, counseling, humbling yourself, repentance, forgiveness–>deeper connection and intimacy, more enjoyment of marriage, better sex
No children–>pregnancy and labor–>joy of children
Isolation, coping, no community–>risking rejection, meeting new people, being uncomfortable–>new friends, being in community
Lack of knowledge or experience–>schooling, reading, training, mentorship, making mistakes, failing–>learning, gaining wisdom
Unhealthy, overweight–>cutting out bad food, eating healthy, getting accountability, exercising–>health, strength, feeling better
Now let’s take a look at all the above examples and think about what it means to be in the “depths”. Does it mean that you will never have conflict in your marriage now that you have gotten through the “breakers”? After struggling through pregnancy and labor, will parenthood be a breeze? Can you continue in bad eating habits after losing weight? The answer is obviously no.
Another type of person in this analogy is the one who refuses to acknowledge the responsibility associated with stewarding the promises and purposes of God. Once you cut through the “breakers”, you are now faced with the task of remembering the goodness of God and what He brought you through, while stewarding and increasing what He’s put before you.
When the Israelites were brought to the edge of their Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, it was their faith in God’s promise and their vision of God’s calling that gave them courage to move forward. The battles they fought with God as their strength were the “breakers” they faced. And after they gained control of the land, God called them to steward the land by cultivating it and increasing their territory. God didn’t say, “Ok, nice job. Now you guys can just take it easy for the rest of your lives.”
My question for you, my reader, is where are you in this analogy? Have you gone forward to pursue God’s purpose for your life or are you still chilling on the beach? Have the “breakers” toppled you and discouraged you?
There is another type of person in this analogy that I want to talk about in my next blog. Perhaps you relate to him or see these types of people in your life.
I appreciate your feedback! Do you relate to anyone in this analogy? Are you somewhere else in this analogy that I haven’t touched on? Comment below!
For more on “minding the gap” of where you are and where you want to be, I recommend “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown.