The Early Surf Session

Today I decided to be the early worm and catch the bird—or something like that. I woke up earlier than normal and headed to the beach with my friend, Paul. We planned to have a morning surf session. I have to say it was a great time. I’ve only been surfing a few times and I am what people call a “beginner.” This is a very accurate title to describe my surfing abilities because I begin quite well on a wave and end up not finishing what I started. Not that I’m a quitter, I just fall a lot.

Most of the morning I spent sitting in the water and talking with Paul and watching him catch a few waves. I watched him catch waves because I was a little intimidated by them. There definitely was some trepidation inside of me as I watched the wave’s crash into the sand. Some of them were fairly large and powerful, almost like they were coming from the ocean or something .I tried a few times to ride them which was fun. There was one time I came really close. I stood up on my board and looked straight down the wave and began to drop in. It felt like I was on the Goliath ride at six flags, until I fell. Then it felt like I was in the ocean, getting crushed by a large wave. Nevertheless, it was a good time and I realized something.

Whenever I take time to hang out with friends and try something new I feel very alive and a part of something much bigger than myself. I was reminded of this in the ocean. I was a tiny dot in the middle of a huge sea, dodging a surfboard that was being propelled like a torpedo. It was a great way to start the day and the month of March. Surfing, no matter how close to death I may have come, was a good experience and a needed reminder.

Lost in Paradise…I think

A while back I saw a commercial for a famous designer that told her story in about thirty seconds. Towards the end of the commercial, the designer said, “life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” I thought that was pretty cool.

My wife and I just returned from celebrating our two year anniversary in San Diego. San Diego is one of those cities you can’t help but fall in love with; or at least enjoy your time there. It has everything you could want in a city except a super hero. We like to explore the city and usually take with us our trusted GPS. This year though, I decided to forgo the GPS, and instead, rely on intuition. When it comes to a sense of direction, this is usually not a good bet for me. I didn’t care though. It was time for me to turn over a new leaf, and plus, I had lost the power connector for our GPS.

Our journey took us all over SD. One day we headed over to La Jolla. This is one of the few places I’ve been to where the views are literally breathtaking. Every ocean themed postcard should come from here. Since we didn’t have our GPS we just drove in one direction and turned when we felt like it. There were even a few times we relied on locals to point us in the right direction. It actually felt weird asking for directions, I mean, who does that anymore? (Probably someone who doesn’t have a GPS system.) My normal paranoid self wasn’t overly flustered at the prospect of not knowing where I was going. I just drove, and did a bunch of U-turns.

It sounds odd, but I was actually enjoying the kind-of-lost-though-I’m-not-entirely-sure way of exploring San Diego. There were many unexpected discoveries like where I could find copious amounts of graffiti, and a prison-like basketball court including chain nets and pit bulls. Not to mention the many new hang-out spots and lovely beaches to kick back at. It was a journey to say the least.

I have to remind myself quite frequently that I am a sojourner. There is no set course for daily living. I am not a programmable machine—and I don’t want to live that way. I want adventure. I want to get lost and find my way. Instead of always having the right answer, I want to discover it and to ask others for help. I am not bound by what others may say or do, just as I am not eternally linked to my GPS. Part of the joy is finding our way, even when we feel lost, and realizing we don’t have to know the end destination. After all, we are just passing through.

Give the Devils their due.

Usually our favorite sport teams are bequeathed to us from parents or that cool uncle we look up to. This was certainly true for me. I was a die hard Cowboys, Braves, and Trail Blazers fan for years. I had jerseys and everything, even flags that hung from my ceiling. It was cool. I was cool. In college though, I realized I didn’t follow any sport team religiously and that needed to change in order for me to be a man. So, I started searching for teams that I could follow, and yell at the TV when they were losing. You know, typical Saturday afternoon behavior. Then, one day, I stumbled upon a team that changed my life! Just kidding, not quite that epic, but I do like them, and that team is the Duke Blue Devils.

What started as a need for manly validation, turned into a love affair with a prestigious east coast school I’ve never been to. I started following Duke a few years ago when they were approaching March Madness. (This is the road to declaring the national champion, for those of you who don’t know, and it happens in March…and it is maddening.) Coach Krzyewski was doing his usual pregame prep for his team, and then he had them do something I’d never seen before. Each player and the coaching staff, signed their names at center court of Cameron stadium in Durham. Coach K told his team: this is our home and we are not going to be beat in our house; we are going to fight and we are going to win. I remember watching the teams warmup and right before tip off, the camera irises in on center court and you could see the signatures of team members made with permanent marker. Immediately, I was a fan.

The autograph gesture made me think about pride, confidence, and protecting what has been given to you. I loved the analogy for my life. A year ago my wife and I were hanging out in downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp district. It’s full of trendy shops and nice restaurants. We were walking down a street with a lots of bars, and a Chargers game happened to be on TV. People were going crazy for the Chargers. The Chargers eventually won the game, and it seemed like the street came alive with people cheering, dancing, and ordering more alcohol. It was a party. Some guy in ghetto mobile with hydrolics even drove down the street and waved a Chargers flag from his window, all the while blasting Jay Z from his stereo. I wanted to become a Chargers fan.

I think one of the reasons we like sports as much as we do is because it gives us an identity. We can now associate with people and share a common bond, which is the team or love of the game. Passionately, we root for our team, stand up for our team, and a lot of the time our emotions fluctuate with a the changing score board. It’s awesome. I like the take Coach K had with the Blue Devils years ago. They needed to win to survive, and they were going to play their hearts out.

It’s interesting that Jesus talks about winning in the gospels. Moreover, he talks about how He will win. I wonder what the apostles were thinking when Jesus spoke to them at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16). Jesus told his followers that day, that the gates of hell will not overcome his church. That is a bold statement. That is not just a promise to win a title or have the best record, that is definitive “I Will Not Fail.” Jesus’ words were the start of a movement, a revelation that God is at work to change everything, and no opponent will hinder the advancement of his will. As Jesus spoke to his followers that day, I wonder if they wrote their names on the ground. I wonder if they understood victory was coming.