If You Want to Catch the Waves, You've Gotta Slog through the Seaweed!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9
“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Rom. 5:3-5
Beautiful, uncrowded, beach, our beautiful family with us on it, waves lapping up onto the shore inviting us to come join them in the ocean. For me, family and sea lover (in that order), this constituted a God-given taste of heaven. Especially since we rarely get to see our family or the sea!
Taking those waves up on their invitation, I bounded into the water—that is, after weaving my way through the prickly seaweed that had washed up on shore—and found myself in—more seaweed (floating in the shallows)! Undaunted, I plowed through it, pushing it aside left and right, in a bid to meet the crest of the waves.
That’s when it occurred to me— sometimes we have to slog through the seaweed if we’re going to catch the waves. (At least I think this was seaweed)
Regardless of its official name, this stuff definitely presented an ubiquitous obstacle. There was no escaping it, on land or sea. Up and down the coast, as far as anyone could see, it stood and floated between sea-swimming hopefuls and the watery delights we hoped to attain. There was no stopping it either, as each wave daily washed more and more of it ashore, faster than any clean-up crew could keep up with it.
Once I’d reached my goal, enjoying the waves and water, I reflected on the worth of surmounting the obstacles. When I first encountered the seaweed, I could have focused on the risks, discomfort, and effort of slogging through it all to reach the waves. I could have decided the cost exceeded the benefit. Instead, I had decided the benefit exceeded the cost. An adventure, good exercise, beauty, fun, and camaraderie awaited me, and no seaweed could keep me from it!
Life is like that. Every day we all make decisions about what to do, try, engage in, initiate… or not. Each of us gaze out at waves we long to catch and ride. Dreams, visions, opportunities, call to us. But then, there’s the “seaweed”—those rough, prickly, ever-present, obstacles. And we wonder, “Is it really worth it? What if I get scratched, injured, or engulfed by them? Worse yet, what if they carry a communicable disease, transferable on contact? On top of that, what if I actually make it out there to the place where I saw the waves, and they’re gone? All that pain, effort, and risk for nothing! Or what if a wave itself gets me, pulls me under, and spits me back up who-knows-where?!”
Yes, the way to the waves often entails painful, sometimes overwhelming, obstacles. True, any time we step out from our comfort-zone (the shore), we risk injury. And sometimes, especially when it involves contact with nasty people, they can cause us serious illness emotionally (as well as physically).
Also, why make an effort when opportunities disappear before we can take hold of them? We’re too late. Why get our hopes up for nothing?
Then, there’s the failure factor. Even if we do reach the opportunity in time to seize it, it might seize us instead. We can fail to ride the crest and instead find our lives tumbling around and washed up in defeat, “chewed up and spit out” by the rejection that often accompanies failure.
So—is it worth the risk? Yes! If we “slog through the seaweed”, we will reach the waves! If the one we first saw has already disappeared, wait for the next one! We’ll never catch any on shore! If we mess up, miss the crest, and get tumbled around instead, hold our breath, ride it out, let it take its course, and stand up again wherever we find ourselves washed up! Then, slog right back out again to catch another wave! No use sitting, feeling miserable, in a pile of seaweed on shore.
Courage comes from knowing we have help. “I can do all things through Him [the Lord] who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13).
What’s the use? The people we end up reaching out to and impacting when we reach the wave. The character growth and fulfillment we experience in the process as well as the attainment. While Prov. 13:12 begins with “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…,” it ends with “…but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”!
Ultimately, it’s the closer relationship with the Lord who never leaves us the whole time we’re slogging and enables us to reach the waves He has prepared for us.