Updated: Apr 30
It's a mid-spring Sunday morning. The Lord’s Day. I am overjoyed to be back at the beach following my minor bout with the flu last weekend. I came for the sunrise, but that turned out not to be my focus this morning.
Overcast? Cloudy? Understatements. I was pleased to capture a decent pic or two of the great ball of fire rising between the horizon and the massive mountain of clouds, but the sky this morning was overtaken by hundreds of hues of grey and white. There wasn't much room on the canvas for blue.
As my friend George Costanza once said, “The sea was angry, my friend.”
Today was a surfer’s paradise. The wind was fierce and the water was rough as the waves curled under themselves. There wasn't a storm brewing, as much as one passing us by miles away, so the current conditions created more of a backdrop for adventure rather than doom.
As I watched the sunrise, a figure popping in and out of the water caught my eye. My first thought was, “What kind of a fool would be out in the ocean when there are posted warnings of rip currents and the sea was as turbulent as I have seen it in quite a while?” Then, I began intently watching this peculiar phenomenon.
It appeared to be a young man of slight stature. He was struggling against the crashing waters but continued to swim with purpose away from the shore. Then, I saw him turn and attempt to hop on a surfboard before tumbling under the swell.
He continued this ritual for over an hour. He would fight the current to get far enough out where he could catch a wave, and attempt to ride it to shore, then do it again. And again, and again. I was getting exhausted just watching him.
And finally, he stood up on the board and rode it for about four seconds. Success.
I went to chat with him when he emerged from the drink.
His name was Alex. A 28-year-old medical resident at a local hospital. I was quite impressed by this as I felt like I was standing in front of a high school senior that would soon be working on his Eagle Scout certification.
Alex grew up in Daytona Beach and was always around the water. His older brother was the surfer in the family, but at the age of 15, he decided to give the activity a try. And he was hooked.
When asked why he does it he says it’s a great way to end his workday and get a good night's (days) sleep. You see, Alex is a surgeon working the 5 pm to 6 am shift.
When his long period of assisting people to regain their health is over, he finds his own bit of healing or therapy in the ocean. This form of medicine consists of struggling to break through the walls of water to get to a spot where you can turn, climb atop, then stand on the board to capture the adrenaline-stoked feeling of riding the wave. There is a natural grin that emerges as he begins to explain the feeling.
What I see from my perspective is someone literally fighting their way through the pounding surf being knocked around like a rag doll just to spend a second or two grappling to stand and falling quickly under the surf. A virtual fight of futility. A war of waste.
This activity is a lot like the daily routine of many people reading this scribble. We awaken each morning to a sea of challenges, yet we choose to jump in the deep, and invest our renewed energies into fighting the onslaught of waves coming our way, just to get a bit further in life than we were yesterday. Some of the waves we face are kind to us and others come crashing down and leave us bruised and battered.
The beauty in the struggle comes with perseverance. We focus on the task at hand and never surrender to the proverbial walls of the deluge that seeks to knock us off course. We continue toward our mission minute by minute, hour by hour, until our tenacity pays off. We achieve the goal and find ourselves standing on whatever board in life we ride that day. Success.
My challenge today is for you to view your troubles from a different perspective. Focus on the task and never surrender. Persevere. If you get knocked down by your circumstances, jump back up and try again. And again, and again. In time, you will find yourself riding the wave of life and will find healing and prosperity that will move you further along than you were yesterday. And that, my friends, will put a grin on your face.