Needing desperately to re-connect with God, I headed for the beach late one Monday afternoon. An exhilarating variety of dark cloud formations moving to stately tempos, dwarfed the sizable port city of Haifa, perched atop Mt. Carmel. The Almighty riveted me with this scene, drawing me up and out of myself – to Him. To His power and majesty, to His creative genius, to His oversight of the universe – and of me.
Out on the Mediterranean, a blue-gray mass indicated rain. Minutes later, it reached the deserted shore. On the way back to the car I stopped to watch a lone surfer taking advantage of the storm-engorged surf. He caught a large wave, but was thrown off only a second into the ride. I felt sorry for him, having to retrieve his board in the rough surf, slowly battling back outside the breakers through wave after wave. Then he rested.
Having surfed as a 12 year old Southern California kid, I really enjoy seeing people ride waves. So I waited for him to catch another. But the surfer had to wait too. Reluctantly I turned toward my car, looking back in hopes of seeing one more ride. I was rewarded. This time he didn’t fall. It was a long, thrilling ride in the wind and rain all the way to the shore—a masterful performance. The surfer picked up his surfboard and walked out of the water. I had the strongest urge to applaud him. He had persevered through the sea’s blows and ridden its power after failing.
So I waited and when he got close I clapped. He smiled broadly and said, “It was the best wave of the day!” The sun had set. The satisfied surfer hurried toward his dry apartment.
Two truths came to me from my beach walk. First, I must trust in the Lord. He alone is my stability. Trusting in my own, even totally-expended effort will leave me exhausted and unfruitful. “Those who trust in the Lord will be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.” Psalm 125:1, 2 The Hebrew word for “trust” in this passage has the related meanings of certainty, promise, insurance, and confidence. He is my Rock. His power built the universe. When I trust in Him I have great goodness (Psalm 31:19). Mercy surrounds me (Psalm 32:10). My life is blessed (Psalm 34:8) and my destiny is established (Psalm 37:5).
I had arrived at the beach wrestling nameless frustrations, pressures and defeats. God “distracted” me from all that with a display of His brilliance. How often am I kidnapped by a train of thought taking me away from the all-sufficiency of my God! “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God, the Lord is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
It’s Hard for Former Slaves to Trust
On the way to the promised land from Egypt, Israel faced the same decision as the surfer. With the Red Sea in front and Pharaoh’s army behind, the Israelites were tired, afraid and sarcastic about the promises of God. “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt, that you have taken us away to die in
the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11, modified NKJV).
We are all former slaves. Overcoming the broken promises and shattered trust of our personal histories is not always easy. God knew this and used Israel’s desert journey, seeking to build a people who would trust Him in all circumstances. “The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in
the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart … He allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna … that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2,3).
Trusting someone is an intimate reality. How do I know I can trust God so totally? What’s to keep me from getting knocked down by the next wave of life and the next and the next? “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The essence of this verse should liberate us from all insecurity. By sacrificing Yeshua, God has demonstrated His total commitment to care for our welfare and escort us into the lofty destiny He has carved out for us. THIS is a God I can lean on with all the weight of my needs and dreams. He will never take advantage of me.
Second, I must not give up no matter how many times I fall or how stormy the conditions. There is a prize set before me that is well worth paddling back out to wait for the next wave. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 3:13,14). How much greater is the prize of Israel’s salvation than a 10 second ride on a wave! The surfer could easily have said “That’s it! I’m tired of getting thrown off this board. I’ve been out here freezing in the wind and rain. I ain’t no sucker. I’m getting out of this water.” Instead, he retrieved his surfboard, ducked the oncoming waves, and headed back out to the deep water where he could catch his breath and wait for a better wave.
Greater Opportunity Demands Greater Trust
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. I want to encourage you to “take a walk along the beach” even if there’s no beach for thousands of miles. Find a spot where God can be “big.” Renew your wonder in Him. Repent of holding against God the betrayals of those in your past. He has not broken your trust. Here, along Israel’s Haifa Bay and into the Galilee, the Lord is opening staggering doors of opportunity. He is calling us to establish new congregations, to reach native and immigrant Israelis with Yeshua’s salvation, to expand humanitarian aid services, to enlarge the textile factory and to walk into deeper oneness of heart with other believers in the land – both Jewish and Arab.
All of this requires greater trust in the Lord. The surfer in the challenging yet rewarding waves of the storm sea spoke to me. His fall, his effort, his rest and his “big ride” tell me that it is time to trust God more than ever before. God is revealing Himself in the midst of history’s gathering storm clouds. It’s going to be quite a ride! The danger and demand will at times throw us into the surf. But the glory of serving Yeshua faithfully and courageously is worth every difficulty. He is calling me to a new level of trust. I believe He is calling you too, in order to send us an unprecedented wave of opportunity — “the best wave of the day.”