I love the song by Cory Asbury called “Reckless Love”:
“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
It chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
There’s no shadow You won't light up, mountain You won't climb up coming after me
There’s no wall You won't kick down, lie You won't tear down coming after me!”
His Love is never-ending. How and why He wants to use me to help others I will never understand. He needed me to go through the pain, and He needed me to help others despite what I lived through. I lived through it. I am so strong-willed, and I was fighting the wrong fight. I was fighting AGAINST God on all of this. My strong-will nature was never meant to be used against the creator but to fight on the good side, to stand firm in the faith, to be unmoved when of the waves of life come and try to beat me down and drown me.
When I lived in Hawaii, I went surfing almost every day. There were flat days that didn’t make surfing very rewarding… the waves were very easy to paddle, but they were not good for surfing. The best surfing happened before or after storms or in winter months when the surf was big and there was a long-lasting swell. The best surfing is usually where it’s the hardest to paddle past the break to the smooth water. These perfect surfing conditions are more work to get to the wave - they require paddling harder and timing duck-dives under the waves just right so they don’t knock you too far back toward shore. They require avoiding the currents that push you into the shallows where the rocks and coral and sea urchins wait.
So, with all these negatives, is riding the wave really worth all the risk and extra work? My answer: In life, trials are like the waves in surfing; we paddle out and get crushed by a wave, we get pummeled into the reef and start to believe it’s not worth the risk and extra work. But with great risk comes great reward. If we don’t stay focused on the goal, we won’t even try. If we don’t try, we will miss out on the opportunity to catch and beautifully ride a wave - the opportunity to be used greatly by the God of the universe. He uses us all whether we want to be used or not. I want to be used by Him AND WATCH HIS PLAN UNFOLD BEFORE MY EYES.
I learned how to surf in the calmer times, to find my focus and not fail. Then, when the big waves came in the winter, I had training under my belt. God uses little victories to help us step out in trust to keep following Him. The more we step out, the more we will be used by Him - in trials of increasing difficulty and challenge. If we don’t pay attention in the little trials, we will not be ready for the tough ones. When I spent my time in the smaller surf, it prepared me for the days of big surf. We all get used to the small surf and don’t want to ever step out and see the bigger surf and bigger opportunities that lay ahead. We get comfortable and never step out - but all the training and little challenges are just a preview. The true test is whether you will take the next step in the bigger and harder challenge or stay where it’s just “okay” in the baby surf.
I remember the first time I faced big surf - it was terrifying at first, and I got pounded the first time out. The focus was to catch that awesome curl that gives a peaceful ride, almost like flying. Riding an overhead wave is very scary at first, but by staying focused, remembering what was learned on smaller surf days, and pushing past all the limits… patience and persistence pays off. The day I caught a perfect curl and rode it for 20 seconds was the beautiful culmination of all the hard work, a “finally!” moment to rejoice in. For me, each push through a challenge in life reminds me of the hard paddle through pounding surf. But it is so rewarding in the end!
I have since realized that riding the waves during this time of my life was just icing on the cake. The “cake” was the time I spent communing with others who were ALSO waiting for the perfect wave. Those who love to surf are solely interested in a catching the perfect curl to ride, and thereby will only bother going out in the challenging surf. If I chose to only be in the water for the flat and easy and unchallenging surf, I would have missed out on endless chances to let Jesus shine into the lives of others. Because I stepped out to face the challenge, the relationships built and the seeds planted for Him are innumerable. I will never know how my years affected the lives of others until I finish my time on earth.