I have to say, I’m so grateful that TODAY is the one day this week where I will sit outside in my backyard. It’s slightly chilly, the sky is the most breathtaking shade of blue, and every tree in my sight is vibrant green with life. I think this is the day I wait for all year. The day where it really feels like SPRING!
I’m so strangely excited about this because Spring in Florida is definitely da bomb. We either have extreme, hellish heat all year or completely frozen winters. March is usually the small window where the weather is actually enjoyable, and it’s the time of year that I have a little bit of hope in this state.
Sorry, this post isn’t supposed to be about Spring or the weather. I promise I’m going somewhere with this, okay?
So as I was basking in the wonderfulness of this fine spring morning, I realized that it won’t be too long before we’re back to that suffocating heat that Florida summers bring us (sorry if I just bursted your bubble. I definitely just bursted my own).
But with summer also comes beach time! That is something to get excited about. So as I was thinking about beaches (I hope you’re all following me on my crazy train of thought here. Sometimes it’s too crazy for me to keep up with, too), I began reminiscing about my vacation last year to Cocoa Beach. I remembered this lesson I had written that was inspired by the waves at the beach.
I’ve wanted to share it, but I guess it sort of fell through the cracks. So with the summer (the season where we sweat just walking to our cars) rapidly approaching, I figured that now is as good a time as any to resurrect this thang. Without further ado and without any more bunny trails, I present to you:
“Lessons Learned from the Waves at Cocoa Beach”
1. The waves on the east coast of Florida are a lot different from the waves on the west coast of Florida
Living on the west coast of Florida, I feel like we’ve been handed the short end of the stick. When people all around the country think of Florida, I highly doubt they picture the beach that we Spring Hillians have been graced with: Pine Island—most commonly known as…..Pine Puddle.
Ugh. I shudder at the thought of that God-forsaken place (it does host some lovely sunsets, though).
It’s no secret that the still waters on the west coast do not compare to the towering waves that live on the east coast. If you want waves, you have got to make a journey to the Atlantic Ocean, FAR away from the stinky Gulf of Mexico.
So here at Cocoa beach, just the sight of these massive waves paralyzes me. You mean, this water actually goes deeper than my knees? If I lose my balance for a split second, I could be swept right off my feet and swallowed up in that ocean! This is not like the beaches I’m used to.
That’s how it is when we decide to follow Jesus.
Until I met Jesus, I was so used to living the way I wanted. I was comfortable, and there were certainly no waves. But God calls us deeper, and He’s got a tendency to lead us directly into waves that we never even knew existed. We decide that we will let Him lead us into the waves, but we also have to decide to trust that He will protect us in them.
Following Christ is out of our comfort zone, and can look pretty scary from the shore, but we will never know the reward until we get out there.
2. Once you begin to make your way into the waves, the shore can look like a much better choice.
Let’s face it. The shore is safe, you don’t have to fight against the waves or feel like you might drown any second. Sometimes the waves in this life are so strong and come so quickly that we feel like we aren’t making any progress or we’re back tracking. That is the trick we allow the enemy to play on us.
God’s will isn’t the safest or easiest choice in the world’s eyes; there will be some pretty harsh waves that make us want to turn and run (well….swim) the other way. But God doesn’t want us to choose a safe path. A safe path requires no sacrifice and absolutely no trust in Jesus.
3. God doesn’t promise an ocean with no waves.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Jesus didn’t hide the fact that we would face tough times in this world, even with Him right beside us.
This is why we have to be rooted in the word of God and His love, so that we can trust Him and believe that being in His will is safe, no matter how it might feel or seem at times. Regardless of the waves that surround me, I can say with 100% certainty that I’d rather be tossed round in waves with Jesus by my side—following Him—than standing on the shore without Him.
4. You have to pass the slappers to get to the toppers.
I know, this makes no sense to you. Let me explain.
A few years ago, I went on vacation with my cousins and my very best friends, Danielle and Jordyn, to Daytona Beach. We spend a good portion of each day playing in the waves. We actually had names for each type of wave we encountered.
Slappers are those waves that hit you with full force and absolutely no mercy. They break right on top of you and take you OUT. There is nothing more terrifying than standing in the path of a slapper, knowing that you have no escape!
Toppers are much nicer. They’re the waves that don’t break on you, but they’re just kind of gently take you up in their current and then set you back down on your feet. They’re peaceful, and absolutely more enjoyable
Like I said, slappers are very powerful. They can knock you down, flip you around, and really hurt you if you aren’t on your guard. At times, I would just stop to rub my eyes or brush the hair out of my face and another slapper would take me down before I even had the chance to recover from the first one. There isn’t time to look away. There isn’t time to get comfortable. The same applies to the circumstances of life. We have to be alert at all times, especially if we’ve just followed God out into these waves.
God is always there in the slappers. All He asks us to do is cling to Him, and He sees us through it every time.
So here at Cocoa beach, I’ve kind of got the waves down to a science (not that it’s really that hard to figure out). The waves are most powerful by the shore. That’s where the slappers live. So, if you want to just float on the toppers and not worry about getting knocked out and swallowing a gallon of salt water every second, you have to trudge past the slappers to get to the toppers. Then, you can finally relax!
God blesses us for allowing Him to lead us into the slappers. He always has our best interest in mind. Being obedient to Him, even when it might seem crazy, always always pays off.
Today, once I finally reached the toppers I could relax. I was happy. I was at rest. The slappers didn’t seem so scary from out there. I gently undulated with the toppers in peace. I had conquered the slappers and I could finally rest!
5. You can’t get too comfortable in the toppers.
I was so relaxed while I was resting on my float in the toppers that I had almost entered into another state of mind. It wasn’t until I noticed my brother on the shore that I snapped back into it, and realized that I should go get him. I drifted so far out that he couldn’t see me past the waves.
But I was at a point where my feet couldn’t touch the ground. I had drifted a bit further without noticing. The waves were sucking me back so it was difficult to make my way to a safer point.
We can’t allow ourselves to ever feel that we have conquered the slappers, because there is even greater danger in the toppers. There is danger in being comfortable. When we aren’t paying attention, we get slowly sucked back, without realizing it. I was no where close to literally drowning that day, but it’s a possibility if we fall asleep or get too comfortable. We need to always be on guard.
Right when we get too comfortable with where we are with Jesus is when the real problem begins. We take God’s presence for granted. We pray and forget how completely awesome and amazing it is that we even have the ability to talk to our creator, our redeemer, the maker of the universe any time we want! We tangibly feel God’s presence on us but forget what it was like when we felt His love and mercy all over us for the first time. So even when we aren’t facing any trials and there are no slappers in our sight, we can’t let ourselves get so comfortable that we drift away from God.
The most beautiful thing about God is that He is always waiting for us. Whether we are still standing on the shore, drowning in the slappers, or sleeping in the toppers, He is always waiting with His arms stretched out. Wherever we are in life, it is never too late to chose to follow Him as He leads us on a journey that is the most exciting and invigorating one we can ever imagine.
I love not knowing where my journey with Jesus will take me next. He doesn’t always tell me what waves are coming, but going through them all with Him next to me is better than any other path I could have chosen in this life.
The waves in this life are strong, but God’s love for us is stronger!
“The floods have risen up, O LORD. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the LORD above is mightier than these!” -Psalms 93:3-4