Friday, August 11, 2006

Go with the 'Flow'

Black Sand Beach in Maui

Johnna and I got back this week after a week in Maui. (obligatory pause long enough for you to say, “oh, it must be rough!” or something like that) I guess a highlight for me (besides the wedding and baptisms which were the real reasons we were there in the first place) was a trip around the East side of Maui which many call, “the road to Hana.” Right before you enter Hana there is a state park called Wayana…. OK, something that begins with a W. Within the park are some caves, incredible lava rock formations jutting out into the water and a black sand beach which is really misleading because although it’s black most of the beach is rock not sand. The pictures above don't completely show the grandeur of the area but it does show a bit of the progression one goes through while descending down to black sand beach… lots of warning signs… jellyfish, man of war (if there is more than one man of war around do you call them men of war?) breaking waves, etc… And then, of course, there’s one of me in the water. We’re not sure whether it’s a foot and a hand or two feet that you can see of me. Truthfully, probably one of the scariest things I’ve done in a long time was to walk down that short beach (black rocks) watching the hungry water eye me. (Why did I do it? Well that’s really for another entry. But it’s mostly because it was there.) While creeping along trying not to get knocked down by waves some of which were breaking chest high even right at the shore line I remembered something… If you fight the wave you will lose almost every time. (Especially if you are standing on rocks in bare feet.) But if you go with the wave and let it take you out a little the next wave will bring you back in. For some of you great swimmers out there letting the wave take you out a bit is not a problem. For me it’s simply counter-intuitive. Muscles, tendons, molecules… what’s smaller than molecules…? Atoms! Even down to my atoms I wanted to stay standing and enjoy the relative comfort of my feet being on solid ground. Everything within me wanted to fight it. But my only chance for enjoying, not to mention surviving was to ‘go with it’.

There’s a pretty obvious connection to our lives here. What I experienced in those few minutes before I capitulated and allowed the waves to go ahead, knock me down and pull me out a little was what many, many people put themselves through frequently… fighting the flow of life. (I’m not talking about going against society’s accepted norms or standing up for what you believe. In that context you have to fight the flow and that’s a good thing.) What I’m talking about is going against the flow that God has allowed (or ordained) into your life in order to get you to a different spot or to teach you something. I’ve learned something about myself: I spend too much energy fighting some things just because I’m scared. I really have no idea what is going to happen when I stop fighting and the fear of the unknown keeps me from giving into it. Meanwhile if I would. If you would. Just let go… give up… (make up whatever phrase is applicable here)… stop fearing… trust God… (truthfully, isn’t that what this is all about…? trusting God…?) If we could just trust God then we’d get pulled out a little, be scared, wish we could swim better, pray a bunch and then just about when we’re going under another wave would come along and bring us back to shore. And then we’d learn that God really could take care of us.

Now obviously this analogy I’m working with here has a strain of difficulty in it because we all know that there are events in life that work like an undertow, which is a strong current pulling out to sea. These events can drag us out and it can be very dangerous. (My family experienced this in a literally as my brother was drug out into the Atlantic as a young boy, was lost then found and taken to the ER to be revived.) In light of those 'undertow events' it seems apparent that this analogy doesn’t always work. But hold on… I think it does… You see, even when a ‘wave’ breaks us in the physical sense we know there’s more than meets the eye… despite the physical signs, there are spiritual things going on all around us, all the time. So, we trust in the ‘waves’ coming in even when we don’t see them. There’s always another ‘wave’ coming in. There’s this guy in the Hebrew Scriptures named Joseph who made a fantastic statement one time. He said, “What they meant for harm, God meant for good.” He had experienced enough of life to realize that you can’t always see it but God is working for your good. There’s always another ‘wave’ coming in. One more comment…we trust in that ‘wave’ even though it takes a long time to come. Another guy in Hebrew Scriptures starts out a poem by saying something like this, “I waited for the Lord and He heard my cry.” If you are serious about following after Jesus sooner or later you will have to wrestle with the idea of waiting. It’s one of God’s primary tools to build character in you. Waiting for the job… waiting for the relationship… waiting for redemption… waiting for the answer… waiting for direction… waiting, waiting, waiting…

Go with the flow. Don’t fight it. Let it take you out. There's always another 'wave' coming in. You’ll be back, stronger than ever and glad for the trip.

to the wave,


jtc said...

They're all behind you
They'll never find you
They're on the ocean floor
Your sins are forgotten
They're on the bottom
Of the ocean floor

My misdeeds
All my greed
All the things that haunt me now
They're not a pretty sight to see
But they're wiped away
By a mighty, mighty wave
A mighty, mighty wave

Audio Adrenaline – Ocean Floor

jonathan foster said...

oh, yeah. excellent lyrics for what we're talking about here!