December 20, 2015

Beginning With God's Best


"God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him."---Jim Elliot

I've been considering trading my current 12'6" x 28" SUP race board in for a 14' x 23" race board. I feel like I've plateaued on my speed with my current board and know that a longer, narrower board will be faster. I took some time to do a little research and talk with my knowledgeable friend and owner of the local SUP shop to find out what the cost would be for such a board, and how much I could get out of my current board.

During our conversation, there was something that just kept gnawing at my gut. Something wasn't feeling right. Even though I found out I could probably get more for my current board than I expected, I knew I wasn't going to make any decisions until I test drove a 14' x 23" board.

Now, I've paddled a 14' board before, and loved how it felt, but it was a little wider (27"). But when I got on the 23" wide board to test it out, I did not like how it felt (it's amazing what a difference a few inches make!). With a board that narrow, I knew it would take me some time to get used to its lack of stability.

This reminded me of my first board purchase. I first test drove an 11' x 23" board. The owner of the shop said it would take at least five good paddles for me to get used to that width, and my response was, "I want something I can enjoy from the beginning" so I got a 12'6" x 28" race board.

This reminder took me back to the beginning of why I began paddle boarding. It was never to be the fastest or to try to win any races. It was to have fun out on the water and get fit while doing so, and maybe improve my paddle stroke, but never to be in competition. I know that if I couldn't enjoy a new board from the first day, it didn't make sense to pay that much money for a new 14' x 23" board.

I left the meeting a little disappointed and still feeling that gnawing feeling in my gut about what to decide. As I was driving home, I was craving something sweet and saw a Cracker Barrel while waiting at a stoplight. It was also my birthday that day so I decided to stop and treat myself to my favorite cake, the Coca-Cola cake, which is now a permanent offering on the Cracker Barrel menu (it used to be seasonable, that is until I participated in a focus group for Cracker Barrel and explained to the market researchers that fudge cake is a year-round thing and therefore should be offered year-round!).

While I was waiting for my cake, I checked my email on my phone and noticed I had a sales promotion in my inbox from the SUP shop that I was about to delete, but decided to open and read it instead. It was a promotion for a sale on an inflatable rec board (a wide-body board that is the opposite of a race board). The more I started reading about it, the more I started to realize that if I was going to get another board, it should be this one (which I never would have previously considered).

First, this is one of the better inflatables (inflates/deflates quikly, is sturdy and indestructible, is portable, comes with a paddle). It was on sale, and was a third of the cost of the 14' race board I had just test driven. Getting an inflatable board at that sale price means I wouldn't have to sell my current board to be able to afford it (and I do LOVE my current race board). I started thinking about how I've been wanting to paddle other places without the hassle and expense of having to purchase and fit my car with a rack and strap mechanisms to transport a race board (which would have probably run me close to an additional $500).

The more I gave all this some thought, the more excited I got about the idea of the inflatable board. I have plans this year to visit Cumberland Island National Park and surrounding areas, and would love to be able to take a board with me that I can just toss into the trunk of my car. And the fact that it's indestructible means I can explore some really cool places without the worry of my board getting damaged by rocks (and I can even learn to surf with this board!).

But something else I realized that made me even more excited is, the inflatable would be an affordable way for my friends to paddle with me. The inflatable is great for people of any skill level, beginner included. And, it would be free for them, allowing them to paddle with me more often. Having an extra board would allow me to share my joy with more people than before!

All of a sudden, that gnawing feeling in my gut was replaced with a feeling of "rightness." It felt right to spend the money on something I could share with others and was more versatile. I was so excited! All of this reminds me of the verse Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Sometimes we take this verse to mean that God will give us what WE want, but in reality, He teaches us to desire the same things He desires for us, His best. I went into this situation thinking I wanted one type of board, but then God showed me what type of board He knew would be best for me.

Of course though, I slept on the idea before making the final decision (because this is not a cheap hobby!), and then the next day I added a brand new inflatable to my fleet! So, who wants to join me on the water this spring?

"But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?" (Luke 14:28)

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