After enjoying some surfing lessons on the Gold Coast of Australia with our mission team today, I was struck by how closely the techniques in correctly catching a wave relate to my own personal journey to New Zealand. I've taken surfing lessons a few times before, but each time it seems I have to re-learn a few basics. Here are some things to remember:
1) Always keep your eyes forward, because your body will follow where your eyes are looking.
2) Nose dives on the board are a bad thing.
3) Never underestimate the power of the ocean.
4) Rip tides can take you to places you don't want to go, but if you find yourself caught in one, don't panic. Just ride it out until you get to shore.
Among my many successful and not-so-successful attempts at riding the waves today, I learned some valuable lessons that I can't help but believe were given to me for my preparations to be a missionary in New Zealand.
There were times today when I caught the perfect wave, hit the sweet spot on the board, and was able to get to my feet fairly quickly in order to ride the wave in safely. What a thrill! Unfortunately there were far more times when I wasn't prepared to catch the wave and found myself coughing up salty sea water after being slammed by a massive wall of water and smashed into the shore. Then I was off to run after my surfboard that had also taken a beating.
Occasionally there was a wave that seemed just too big, too ominous. Those were the ones that seemed to tower far above the rest. How could I possibly catch it and avoid being overpowered once more? Here's how: I had to be PREPARED; be prepared to act quickly and be flexible . . ..It was a must that I get my body and board in the correct position for the oncoming wave to crest and sweep under me, then slide on my stomach at just the right time and hang on for dear life. Once on the board I must act quickly to hit the sweet spot in order to finally get to my feet for the remainder of the ride in. The waves do not wait for you to tell them when you are ready to ride. .. they lead the way and you will follow whether you like it or not. Remember my rule #2? Nose dives are a bad thing.
Let me be frank with you. It feels as though my big wave is about to crest. I have to be prepared to catch it and put into practice everything I have learned in order to survive and come out on the other side. I left for Australia 3 weeks ago, knowing that would be the start of a long journey that would not end until I settled into my new home in Whangarei, New Zealand in September. I am just now finishing the first leg of this trip with the mission team from MNU.
We have enjoyed 3 amazing weeks here in Brisbane and plan to fly out on Monday. I will depart for Sydney and spend a week there with old friends before heading to New Zealand for 3 days to meet my future co-laborers for the gospel at New Hope Church of the Nazarene. After that I will return to the States for 2 days before making the long drive up to Michigan to visit family and friends. Then it is back to the office at MNU August 1st to begin bringing closure to my work there and then back to move permanently to new Zealand in September!
The wave is about to crest. .. .I can feel it. If I am not prepared, prayed up, and ready to hold on tight to my Jesus and my faith, this is going to be a rough ride. However, if I am in the correct position, anticipate the power of it all and ride it for all its's worth, it's going to be an exhilarating ride and God will be glorified. Would you please pray for me? I will be facing a lot of transitions, building new relationships, facing a sharp learning curve and I need God's help. He is near now and I choose to trust him.