Topic: Perseverance & Patience
Author: Dan Ely (Mentor & Friend)
When I was 10 years old my family moved from Dayton, Ohio to Redondo Beach, California. Our house was on a hill and from the living room window I could see the Pacific Ocean about a mile away. I was so excited to try out the beach and learn to boogie board, body surf, and eventually board surf. I didn’t know that Redondo Beach was one of the best surfing spots in Southern California. During the summer I would go surfing almost daily and ride my bike or walk early in the morning around sunrise when the surf was the best. Over the years, I’ve learned that surfing takes patience, timing, balance, & perseverance.
Surfing takes patience because often the waves are flat or the wind blows the waves down so you spend a lot of time sitting on your surfboard waiting for the right wave to come. Sometimes the waves are small and rides are hard to catch, sometimes there is 3-4 foot tall shore break (which meant you caught a wave by the shore and were instantly slammed into the sand, scraping your chest on the rocks and filling your trunks with sand-what fun). On really fantastic days the waves might be 6-8 feet tall and break way, way out so the ride was a long & exhilarating one.
Like waiting for the next really big wave, I have to wait on the Lord & what he has in store for me in regard to my faith. I don’t know what it will be, but I do know that it will be good and may not all be realized on earth but in heaven. I don’t like waiting. I want to know what God’s plan is, and I want it now. However, I have learned that I may be in God’s waiting room and His timing is what is important not mine.
- “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” -Psalm 33:20
Timing in surfing is everything. Waves come in sets and sometimes the second wave is best but sometimes the 9th wave is best. How do you know which wave to catch? Often, I would choose the wrong one and not get a ride just to see my buddies catch one before me and have a great ride. Once a wave comes I would have to paddle hard before it gets to me so when it arrived I was going at the right speed to catch it. Experience helps in these cases to be able to read the waves and know when to paddle.
My faith allows me to paddle hard by knowing what scripture tells me and trying to follow it. I use my faith to trust in God’s timing & to make wise choices, but it’s not easy. It takes a lifetime to keep improving and growing in the faith.
As soon as I feel “in the wave” I “pop-up” and then I’m riding the wave. The “pop-up” has to be fast or I will slide forward and fall off the front of the board or slip off the back as the wave crashes over me. Likewise, my faith has taught me to “pop-up” and be counted for Christ even to people I don’t know or to friends that do not know Christ. It is still hard for me to do, but seeing other teenagers like you share your faith encourages me to “pop-up” and share my faith as well.
- “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:13
Next, I need to focus on keeping my balance, if I want a long ride without falling off the board. Good surfers have great balance and know when and how to shift their weight. My faith as it has grown has allowed me keep a balance between my work (scientific research) and my belief in God. More than that, trying to find balance in our lives can be hard work. There are so many things to juggle like: school, work, sports, band, friends, family, etc. To help stay balanced, I have asked God for guidance, patience and wisdom. Sometimes your closest friends, in my case my wife, will tell me when my life is not in balance. If your life is out of balance what would it take to be more balanced?
- “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1-3
Finally, surfing takes perseverance. One time I was surfing at Huntington Beach, California and the waves were breaking far, far out and they were big and powerful. I remember paddling out and the first wave hit me and pushed me back and then the second and third and I was losing ground and getting pushed closer to shore and spitting out water I had swallowed. When I finally got out to where the waves were breaking I was exhausted and had to rest before I could catch a wave. Then a big wave came and I paddled hard, popped up and immediately fell off and my board and it washed all the way to the beach (before the days of bungee cords). I was so frustrated and tired.
This surfing story reminds me that I needed to be in better physical shape than I was to fight and ride the big waves. My faith also has to be continually strengthened by reading the Word, daily prayer, and acting out my faith. As my faith is strengthened, it allows me to be strong and persevere in hard times. Recently, my faith has allowed me to remain strong in Christ and ask for prayer and support in spite of difficult obstacles like serious medical issues.
How about you? How have you had to persevere through the big waves of life? Maybe it was a big test or project, changing schools, a fight with a friend or family member, not making the team or not getting the scholarship, the loss of a loved one or a difficult health problem. In spite of the big waves I have had to face, God through my family, friends and the Word have given me the strength to paddle on.
- “… I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” -Philippians 3:13-14
It’s hard to persevere and sometimes I want to quit, but I have slowly learned to hold on a little longer and be stronger. My prayer for you is that you grow in your faith, be strong, and hold on tight to God when the waves of life are crashing down on you. Keep your head up and remember to be patient, wait on God’s timing, ask him to keep you balanced, and persevere in your faith. Who knows, maybe God will take you on the ride of your life?
Check out the lyrics to a song that has helped me:
When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain’t gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
“Stronger” by Mandisa
- “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” -Psalm 118:14
Text: © 2017 LCC- F.R.O.G. Youth Ministry. Used with author’s permission * Image: © google free use license