You Catch Waves, They Don’t Catch You


urfboard? Check. Wax? Check. Waves? Uh. They’re coming.

I’m ready. Any minute now, a perfect swell is going to build, crest into a wave, and come up right under me. I’m going to sit right here and jump to my feet just as the peak sets me up to cruise down the line. It will be amazing. I cannot wait!

What about the waves over there?

Those are too far. That would be a hard paddle. Besides, I am ready in this spot. Right here. When a wave comes, watch me go!

You see the problem. This poor chap has everything but the key ingredient. He can plan, prepare, stay positive, know what he wants, envision the outcome, and still struggle mightily at surfing.

A couple weeks ago, I found myself surfing my hometown coast of Atlantic Beach, NC, with friends and smiles all around. I felt so good the world melted away. It was just me and the beauty of creation. Emerald waves and bronzing sun. As I dug hard to paddle into each little wave, I made a mental note to share this principle with you.

The things we want in life rarely come to us. In fact, we rarely know where they will appear. Or how significant or minor they will be.

The action, the joy, the thrill and the energy of what we want does not revolve around us. The swell of blessing does not perfectly come up under us. We must see it, paddle hard toward it, and position ourselves to catch it. Just like surfing.

Despite how silly it would be for me to sit in one place in the expanse of the ocean and wait for a wave to position me to ride it, I find myself doing this very thing in life. I do everything imaginable to prepare for God to bless what I am doing or want to do instead of finding out where He is making waves to go catch. I must look as ridiculous as a surfer commanding the waves to come to him while huge, powerful waves whoosh on by.

Of course as in surfing, the other side to this principle is that there is a cadence and progression toward catching a wave that if rushed will not put you in the right place either. Seeing a wave and then reactively paddling at the last minute as it crashes down will usually spell wipe out, just as seeing an opportunity and then jumping in without knowing what you are doing will usually spell disaster.

So to look at God, or life, or others to give us what we want, on our terms, is a tad foolish. It is better to look around, see where the action is, and start paddling toward that. As the momentum builds, we will be able to match its speed, position ourselves on the wave, and join its movement.

Where is God moving in your life? What is He blessing that you are overlooking? Are there waves you can catch that you dismissed before? People you wrote off who need your specific talents and skills? Are you struggling to see what you are missing? I encourage you to choose a wave and start paddling. The ride is worth it.

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10 Comments You Catch Waves, They Don’t Catch You

  1. Abby

    Very inspirational! I feel as if these days I've been more encouraged to go out and paddle rather than just sit in one place and wait.

  2. Maria Brophy

    Great points. I've been guilty of waiting for waves when the better ones were a little more effort to go get…great metaphor for the rest of everything we do in life!

  3. Jennifer Prentice

    Jeff, as always, you have beautifully expressed what so many of us struggle to put into words…and you are so right. I know that I try so hard to get my life to a place where I think God will bless me–be obedient to His word, etc.–when really, He simply wants us to pursue HIM, not His blessing. And sometimes that pursuit takes work, but it's always worth it. Thanks for sharing your heart about this. Hope you are doing well!

  4. Safaahava

    Awesome metaphor! Just two days ago, I went to Huntington Beach to watch the surfers. I've always wanted to learn…but have been afraid of sharks. After reading your post on surfing…I believe we are to watch where the waves come in and GO for it! Peace.

  5. Akash Sharma

    Hey Jeff, Great post again, was eagerly waiting for something to be penned from your end. I think we can get a lot from life if we understand how to take real pleasures and pains at different times without getting too desperate or too faint in our approach. Keep the insights rolling….

  6. favecast

    Awesome post that illustrates how God is not all about “curbside” (or in this case, wave-side) service. He has so much for us and has given us the tools to paddle. I'm reaffirming today to not be so lazy.


  7. Nathan Schweinberg

    dude, that's killer =]

    It makes me think of the book Experiencing God. The big thing that he says we need to do is pursue our love relationship with God. That is THE most important thing we can do with our lives. After that, God will show us where he is working (the wave) and then we go and join him (paddle out). It's pretty killer =D

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