Worth the Sacrifice: Learning to Trust God with the Unknown
I’ve always thought that life is a lot like surfing. The ocean of life is filled with waves. Some are bigger than others; and there will always be a few that seem too big to try. Voices in your head and around you will cast a shadow of doubt. But that is when the challenge meets courage—a commitment to try, to seize the strength within to stand tall on that impossible wave. Some waves are full of excitement and thrill as you feel the wave pick you up and you ride down its face. And some other waves are so powerful that you lose your balance and nose dive into the deep ocean and tumble beneath the white wash. But all of those things come with the thrill of surfing.
In surfing you start on the shore. You have to prepare your board with wax so that your feet have traction and you do not slip off. You need to put on your leash so that if you fall down your board will help pull you up from beneath the waves. Then you have to pick up your board and make your way towards the ocean. First you have to fight the waves on shore to reach the largest swells, then comes the hard part, patience—waiting for that perfect wave to come your way.
Life looks like that. We need to prepare ourselves by digging into God’s word so that we can give our feet traction as we ride our board on life’s waves. We need to remain in God’s presence so that when we do fall off our board, He will pull us back up. Then we need to make our way towards the ocean and decide if we are going to paddle to the outside where the waves are waiting.
Almost a year ago, I found myself sitting on my board in the outside waiting for waves to come. My internship at Saddleback Church was coming to an end and I did not have a clear direction on what was next for me in my career. Let’s just say I could not see any waves building on the horizon. I started to get anxious and would paddle around to see if I sat somewhere else in the ocean, if I started looking for job openings at churches then maybe, just maybe, I would see the waves in the distance and an opportunity would pop up. Still nothing. So I waited. And still nothing. That is when I remembered God’s command to Abraham in Genesis 12:1, “Go to the land that I will show you.”
God asked Abraham to pack up his family and everything he owned and just leave and journey to an undisclosed location. Seriously, God, You want Abraham to leave everything behind and just start moving without knowing where he was going to end up? That sounds crazy. That sounds like an impossibly huge wave that will cause you to nose dive and then hold you under water. But Abraham obeyed. He had complete confidence and trust in the unknown, in God’s plan.
When God reminded me of this journey he took Abraham on and the promise He had fulfilled in Abraham’s life, He asked me to completely surrender and trust Him in the unknown. He already knew what waves were going to build in the distance and He wanted me to be poised on my board and ready to start paddling when the wave came. When I decided to completely trust in God’s plan, that is when I noticed it—there on the horizon was a slow and steady rise. There was a set coming in. A set that carried the wave that was going to carry me to the land God was showing me. As the waves rolled in, I was ready to start paddling.
Remember how I shared earlier that some waves seem too big to try? Well one of those waves was headed my way. God showed me the waves, but He still wanted me to completely trust in Him so when I was approached by the Saddleback Kids Weekend Pastor about taking a job on the team, I needed to decide if I was going to start paddling. You see, when I was first approached about a job opportunity, there was no job title, no job description, and no timeline. All I was told was that there was a job for me if I wanted it, I just had to trust and commit.
I began to understand what Abraham may have been thinking when God asked him to “go to the land that I will show you”. I was asked to verbally commit to a job that had not even been created yet. This wave was building and building. There I was in the outside and I had a decision to make. I could start paddling and feel the wave pick me up and I could ride it, or I could let it pass me by and wait for a more safe looking wave. I decided to ride that wave. I decided to completely trust in God’s plan even though it was unclear and I could take a nosedive on my board. And let me tell you it has been one of the greatest rides of my life.
No matter what you’re facing today—whether you’re sitting on your board, scanning the horizon and you don’t see any waves in sight, or a set of huge waves seem to be rolling in, choose to position yourself to be ready to paddle, to trust God in the midst of the unknown. It’s often the scary not-knowing-how-it-will-turn-out moments that become the defining moments in our story, in our journey of becoming who God made us to be.
Who’s ready to go surfing?