I’ve never been surfing. At least not in the sense of riding waves on the beaches of California.
It sounds like fun. I think I’d like the adrenaline rush that comes from catching the perfect wave, gliding along the water, and rushing toward the beech with the cool wind in my hair and the warm sun shining on my awesome Bermuda shorts.
In my imagination, I’d make the perfect landing and my beautiful wife would look on in amazement at how athletic and graceful her husband is. My kids, impressed with their dad, would cheer for me and encourage me go back out to catch another awesome wave.
But in reality, my surfing attempt would probably look more like a pair of wet shorts being tossed around in a washing machine tumbling end over end. My wife would offer a humble word of encouragement and my kids would be more entertained by the sand on the seashore.
I’ve never been surfing, but I am part of a church plant. Some days I’m not sure there’s a difference.
There’s at least three things I’ve learned about church planting from surfing. (Or maybe I’m learning about surfing from church planting!)
1. Wait on the Waves.
I’ve heard from those who surf that waiting on the waves is essential for a great ride. Sometimes they’ll sit in the water staring at the horizon waiting in hopeful anticipation. What appears from the shoreline as inactivity is in reality a period of preparation. The surfer is waiting on the wave.
In church planting, sometimes you have to wait on the waves. Sometimes I find myself staring at the future wondering, “When will this happen?” “When will that happen?”
We’d love for the perfect wave to come now, but it’s in the waiting that God allows us to grow in our trust in Him. I’ve seen God work in miraculous ways, and He’s never been late yet! His timing is perfect. Most recently God answered a prayer we’ve been praying for nearly nine months!
We’ve even been able to ride a few waves already, and it has been an incredible journey!
2. No Risk, No Reward.
There comes a point when the surfer has to stop staring at the horizon waiting on the “perfect” wave. Sometimes you just have to jump out there and see what happens. In surfing, you have to be willing to take a risk if you want the reward of riding the wave.
Over the last nine months, we’ve taken several risks. Our family, along with twelve other families, moved to Georgetown, Texas to begin a new life here. We’ve invested time, energy, and resources in serving our community. We’ve stepped out of our comfort zones, and placed ourselves in a new community.
The reward has been phenomenal.
God has placed people in our lives we never would have dreamed of encountering. I’ve personally encountered more un-churched people in the last nine months than I had in a decade of serving in a church office. My office has moved from the safety of a church building to local coffee shops and libraries, and I love it!
We’ve taken a few risks, and I can see a few more on the horizon.
3. Unbalance Leads to a Fall.
I’m naturally an optimist. The glass is always at least half full. I don’t like to think about falling. I’m continually hopeful all will go as expected or better than expected. However, there is only one perfect being, and his name is Jesus!
When surfing, falls occur when the rider gets too far in front of the swell or too far back into the swell. Unbalance on the board is a recipe for a plunge.
In life, following the Holy Spirit’s leading requires the incredible discipline of balance. There are times when you desire to get too far ahead of God’s leading out of excitement or eagerness. Then there are times when you hold back from his leading out of fear or unbelief.
In both instances falls occur. We get out of sync with God’s leading in our lives and start living out of balance. It’s dangerous.
Life is much more courageous when we can learn to be in step with the Lord instead of out of step in the world.
So I’m learning to surf . . . wait, take risks, and balance. It’s an incredible journey and well worth the effort.
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