June 7, 2014

Don't Look Down

I had decided this summer I was going to try stand up paddleboarding (SUP). After a quick search online, I found a place at the marina nearby that rents boards and offers a basics/beginner course, making the thought of trying it a little less intimidating. I invited a few friends to join me, but didn't have any takers, now making the thought of it a little more intimidating. But, I didn't let the fact that I would have to go solo stop me. I've been to the other side of the world by myself. I go hiking and biking by myself all the time. I could do this by myself. And besides, I knew I wouldn't be truly alone because God is always with me, and there would be some other newbies in the beginner class I could meet.

Not personally knowing anyone who has previously tried SUP, I wasn't sure if it was going to be harder than it looked or easier than it looked. Would I have the balance to get up and stand up on the first try? I mean, you're basically standing on water! I'm sure it's something that probably doesn't come naturally, at least not at first.

Despite how hot it was today, I didn't want to end up swimming with turtles in the Cumberland River if I could help it. So this morning before heading out to the marina I prayed, "Lord, please let me be able to get up on the board on the first try and stay standing up." (It's true you can pray anytime about anything!).

Not only did God answer that prayer, but through the process of the beginner's lesson, He showed me just how much this experience of learning SUP is a direct parallel to some of the lessons in His Word. For instance, just as I was about to stand up for the first time, the instructor told me to keep my focus on the horizon and don't look down or I would likely fall in the water. As soon as she said that, I immediately thought of the story of Peter when he walked on water with Jesus:
Matthew 14:22-33

22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.
27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
29-30 He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” (MSG)
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (NIV)
Peter started to sink because he took his focus off Jesus. One of the other things our instructor told us today was, "Your board will go where your eyes go." This is why it is so important for us to guard what we look at and watch. If we take our focus off of God and peer down the path of darkness and destruction, before we know it we're likely to be steering ourselves in that direction and heading down that road.

Take time like Jesus did to be by yourself and pray. Be like Peter and take a step in faith. Don't look down. Keep your eyes on God, and when you feel like you're sinking, reach out for Jesus's loving hand. He will catch you.