On water sports and finding God’s will
Imagine floating on your back in the middle of the reservoir.
You’re wearing a lifejacket, and as you float like a dead bug, your heels rest on a small surfboard on the surface of the water. About 20 feet ahead of you, a ski boat idles. Connecting you to that boat is a rope, which you grip by a loop at the end.
When you say you’re ready — as ready as you’ll ever be, anyway — the boat driver steps on the gas. The force pulls you upright, and you find yourself standing (or squatting) on top of that surfboard while clutching the rope for dear life.
After a couple seconds, you fall. But next time you last a little longer. Eventually you stay upright for nearly a minute. This is called wakesurfing. (Well, technically you’re supposed to let go of the rope. But you try that and see what happens.)
Before I got in the water, I watched from the boat, first as the driver gave a tutorial from the dock, then as he and his brothers each took a turn wakesurfing. I listened to what they said as they coached each other. I paid attention to their feet on the board. I watched as they pulled the rope tight when it slackened up, so any acceleration wouldn’t jerk their arm out of the socket.
After all that, and with plenty of instruction during my many attempts, I succeeded at my version of wakesurfing. And yes, I felt like a pro athlete.
Wouldn’t it be great if life were always that straightforward? You’re given a goal, a demonstration or three, and continual coaching as you try and try again. Maybe it’s hard, maybe it takes a while, but after a time, you reach your goal.
But what if you don’t know the goal? Or how to get there?
We know our big goal as Christians: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 22:36-40). But there are so many ways to do that, right? To put it in terms of watersports, we could surf, ski, or even drive the boat. Each one would get us across the lake.
And what about more specific instructions? Maybe you feel like you’ve been doing things right, but you’d really like God to tell you yes or no, now or wait. Can you tell I’ve been there?
I recently started reading a book called “Finding God’s Life for My Will.” Read that title again. If you’re as confused as I was, maybe the subtitle will help: “His Presence Is the Plan.”
When I flipped the book over and read the back, fluorescent green letters caught my attention:
WHAT IF GOD WANTS YOU TO MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT ALL THE ANSWERS?
Those words thumped me in my hard head, and I knew I had to start reading.
Author Mike Donehey (lead singer of contemporary Christian band Tenth Avenue North) explains, “I gave up begging to know God’s will and began to ask His life to come and change my will.”
In other words, yes, God has given us plenty of instructions in the Bible for how to follow Him — but sometimes when we’re facing a specific choice, He’s not going to direct us left or right. He wants us to seek Him, not just His answers.
His presence is the plan.
Naturally, if we spend more time with Him, we’ll probably do a better job following His plan for our lives. But the point is the relationship, not the road map. The whole reason He sent Jesus to pay for all our sins was so those sins would no longer separate us from Him. He wants to be WITH us.
So when we’re barely staying upright and we don’t know where to steer our surfboard (or even how), let’s seek God’s help. But more importantly, let’s seek Him.
He might not tell us exactly what to do. Sometimes His will might be for us simply to move forward in faith based on what we know. But if we ask, He’ll give us the wisdom and strength to make the right decision and carry it out.
May we be grateful that He does, and may we seek Him all the more.
Must-reads in this issue:
● Our cover story on Roosevelt and Shay Greenwood and their journey through stage 4 cancer
● What happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned?