It wasn’t the first wave my youngest asked to explore with me. We’d already jumped to avoid getting pounded by a couple of shore-breaking waves. But this wave, this wave was the most powerful one we’d seen that morning.
The wave picked me up and flung me down, tossing his little body around as well. And for a split second, I was terrified. Everything was out of control, nothing felt right. But I scooped him up and saw that he was all wet but hardly concerned. Wiping water from his eyes, I realized he had every expectation that I had everything under control.
Hours later, as I surveyed the ocean from my beach chair, I thought about the way that this was pretty typical of life. We think things are going along just fine; we’ve handled the waves, the undertow, the occasional jellyfish or crab. We’ve got this under control.
And then, wham! One wave, one blow, one event, and suddenly, our lives don’t feel right. They are out of control. Like waves I’ve body surfed, they take us up and crash us down to the bottom, holding us down, taking our breath away, crushing us into darkness.
A few months ago, I found myself in a conversation with a man who was sharing his doubts about God and church. “Why’d Jesus need to die on the cross? Is that really even a thing that matters for all of this to work? I just don’t see the point,” he exclaimed over lunch one day.
I paused, reflecting, and then asked, “Have you ever been stuck in a situation that you couldn’t get out of on your own?”
The man said he couldn’t remember a time when that had been true, that life had always seemed to be a breeze. There was no tension, no friction, not terrifying third act from which his life couldn’t recover without help.
I told him that I thought he was fooling himself, but maybe it’s all in your perspective.
I remember the debts I couldn’t pay financially until people showed up and helped me out.
I remember the car accident that left me trapped in an overturned car.
I remember the waves that caught me as a child and held me under until my father’s strong hands lifted me up off the bottom.
Maybe it’s all in your perspective, but here’s my truth: the waves will come, the storms will blow, the seas will rage, and we can’t stop them. What we can do is reflect on where we stand and who stands with us, because we can know control that. We can know who we are and whose we are, and reflect in the peace that strong hands still hold us, even when all around us it seems dark and terrifying.
I saw today that my son wasn’t scared- because he knew I had him. And I need not fear the storms in my life, for I know who has me to, even as I battle the waves. How different would our community and churches look if we actually believed like that?