In 53 years of surfing, I’ve never had this happen to me. When I came to the surface I could hear that famous Saturday Night Live character, Mr. Bill, screaming, “Oh noooooooo, what’s happening?”
The day was another one of those perfect days we seem to get in Southern California: Bright sunshine, no wind, ocean like a sheet of glass with five to eight-foot waves rolling in and only a few people out surfing. The only problem was the tide–it was too low and the waves were collapsing over the sand bar all at once, leaving few opportunities for a clean take-off and ride. But Jackie and I were there and I had my board and I needed the exercise…so I paddled out anyway. Of course my beloved wife said, “Be careful.” Am I ever not careful?
Paddling out was short of miraculous because I nearly got to the outside without even getting my hair wet. I had to dive under one wave and then I was out. As I sat awaiting the right wave to come, I could see that the smaller waves inside provided a much better chance of getting a ride without getting pounded into the sand. But when you want to ride the smaller waves you must sit closer to shore, which means the bigger waves that come are going to have a wonderful chance of swatting you like a fly. So I sat outside waiting for a wave to take off on. A few came by and as I paddled to take off I could see that no matter which direction I would have gone, the ride would have been over in less than a second and I’d be spitting sand. So I waited and waited and waited.
I let myself drift in a bit, hoping for a smaller wave when I saw a large set of waves humping up and moving in. So I started paddling back out and it was all going well. First wave, paddled over it and felt like I was on an elevator being gently lifted to the next floor. Next wave, not so good. It was about a six-foot wave and I was almost out when it started to throw over (top to bottom for you who know the surf jargon), so I duck dived my little board and we got deep enough under that I was only pulled back a few feet and barely disturbed. But the third wave, not the charm or charmer, reared up and it looked really big from my prone position on my board, paddling like a crazy man on meth.
I knew I wasn’t going to get out without paying, though still filled with hope I paddled. Then I saw what that lip was going to do when it started to pitch out so I slid off the front of the board and began swimming to the bottom. Only that wave was sucking up all the water from the bottom and grabbed hold of me and it started twirling, flipping, yanking and pulling me in 5 different directions. I’d forgotten how much power a Pacific wave carries with it as it glassily glides along in the serene-looking water. But I’ve been tossed about plenty of times so I simply said, “Relax, this will stop in a matter of seconds.” And it did. I opened my eyes and alarmingly was aware that it was pitch black and I had no idea which way was up. So this time I said, “Relax, your leash will show you the way up.” And it did! I was pointed to the bottom so I turned around and swam to the top, and though this had only taken 15 to 20 seconds to unveil, I needed a breath of air so I was thrilled when I felt my head pop out of the water and feel my board there waiting on me. I took a deep breath but there was no air. “That’s weird, I thought–maybe I’m still underwater and just thinking I’m above.” But I was above water. I’ve heard of guys in really big waves coming up for air only to find foam, but that’s what happened to me. Foam. Yuck. Again, “Relax, it’ll settle down.” And it did and I breathed and I got on my board and again started paddling out like that mad man on meth (no, I’m not a druggie) for the outside. When I got beyond the break I decided I was gonna catch a wave regardless of its form and get in. A smaller one than the monster that tried to dismember me came in, though when I caught it and looked up it was well above my head. I had my back to the wave and was flying right when the wave hit the sandbar and began to throw the top to the bottom. Being smarter than a wave, I straightened out, dove for the deck of the board and hung on as it exploded behind me and shot me forward like David’s smooth stone headed for Goliath’s hard head. My surf session was ending fine and I simply lay on the board, held on and was propelled toward the beach. Maybe 30 feet from the beach I saw another wave was coming straight at me from shore (backwash), headed out to sea. “Really, that’s a rather large wave to be heading out and breaking.” So I hung on, hit the oncoming wave, but kept the nose up, got launched into the air and the two waves crashed together and I resumed my escape to safety. All in all, it wasn’t a good surf day, but I got to experience new things. It did scare the bejeebers out of Jackie because she was watching me out there and freaking out at the size of the waves I was floating over, and she blames me for a migraine she had that night and Sunday. “You made me tense.” So much for relaxing days on the sunny beach.
Every day there’s something new coming your way. Sometimes it might hit you square in the face and toss you in five different directions and convince you that circumstances are going to mess you up. Other times it looks like a beautiful, sunny day with unicorns running up and down the street when one of them gores you. But for us who call on God as Father and know what it means to abide in Him, the word that kept coming to my mind, “Relax,” means so much more. Relaxing in Christ means we can sit back and know that life is going to be OK, perhaps even great! We can relax in any circumstance, hang on tightly to our Lord Jesus and ride Him to shore. I have no idea what kind of wave you are riding right now,
but I do know that as my brother or sister in Christ, or my friend (or even if you don’t like me), we can pray for one another. And that’s the purpose of this little blog entry: We want your prayers as we live out here in California, working in missions once again in our “golden” years. What do we need: It’s simple: to do the will of God. To watch and pray. To become like Him Who became like us so we could all be rescued. What do you want? Need? Can we pray with you, for you, for someone you love? All you gotta do is send us a comment via this blog and we will see it. If you would like to see what we are doing here in Chula Vista, CA, go here: YWAMsandiegobaja.org Copy, paste in your browser and have a look. Praying God’s mercy abounds to you.