By Bear Woznick Author of “Deep in the Wave – A Surfing Guide to the Soul”
Hope Amidst Waves of Adversity
I was in my early thirties and I felt invincible in the ocean. That day that feeling radically changed. Howard and I drove by the Ventura Pier on our way north to surf Rincon. By the time we drove back the surf had destroyed that pier.
We made our way down to the beach and then, as we knelt down and strapped our leashes to our ankles, we scanned the horizon. As big as it was, it was getting bigger. I felt compelled to make the sign of the cross as we heard basketball size boulders being banged against each other.
We would have to power ourselves through wall after wall of the biggest surf I had ever seen. Howard spoke only one word: “Gnarely.” We paddled for thirty minutes but we still found ourselves fighting the powerful currents and waves trapped in the impact zone.
Finally, there seemed to be break in the swell and the hope within me called on every fiber of my being for an all or nothing effort. But, it turns out, that this was just a lull before the biggest set of the day. My heart sank as I saw mountains barreling towards us. My only hope was to paddle over wave after wave beyond to deeper water. I made it over the first wave only to be facing a bigger one. I paddled with all my might, stroke after stroke up its face, barely making it over the second one, but then, I saw the next monster wave. It was already drawing me towards it sucking water up from the reef. I knew that, no matter how hard I paddled, I could not make it over the thick lip of that wave before it threw. Diving deep would not help either. I could not get deep enough and it would just suck me up the back of the wave and then throw me over the falls.
I turned towards shore. It was well over a quarter of a mile away. I paddled with all the strength I had left. My heart pounded from the workout but even more from the fear. My heart sank. I thought of my children. How would they survive without their dad.
I looked up at the shore line and saw all the cars parked along Pacific Coast Highway and all the people standing there watching me die. I thought this is the last sight I will ever see. Just then, one of the waves I had just paddled over exploded against the twenty foot sea cliff cascading water right over the top of them and across three lanes of highway. I knew how Peter felt when he was sinking. I looked back. The monster wave was throwing out over me. I yelled out “JESUS!” and took my last breath as the wave exploded on me.
It crushed me under its weight pinning me to my board as I rode under the white water towards the treacherous cliffs. I held onto the rails of my board with all my physical strength and held unto my hope in Jesus with all my might. He was my only hope.
Finally my board burst out from the wave and I caught my breath just as it surged and engulfed me again and threw me onto the rocky cliff. I scrambled up the cliff face dragging my surf board up the rocks behind me. As I reached the top, hands reached down to pull me up over the ledge on the highway. I thought of Peter as Jesus’ powerful arms pulled him out of his hopeless situation in the stormy sea.
You see Hope is only hope if it is in a hopeless situation. But “Our hope is in the Lord.” (Psalm 14:6)” Look up your redemption draws near. (Luke 21:28 ) Reach up in hope to him now. No matter what your situation, He will not fail you.
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Until next week Ride the Wave of the Holy Spirit
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