I recently returned from an amazing vacation to Florida. We spent 5 days in the Tampa Bay area seeing the sites and then we drove over to the Miami area to stay with some good friends for the remainder of our time. I am very happy to say that I was able to decompress fairly quickly on this trip, and by the second day I was 100% on vacation, fully relaxed and just enjoying the time with my family.
The weather was not quite as good as we had hoped it would be while we were there, but we certainly were not complaining. One morning I got up and checked my phone to see that there was a 40 degree temperature difference between our location and home. That made for a happy thought all day! We did manage to squeeze in a few sunny days where we had the opportunity to really enjoy the beaches, water, and some amusement site time as well.
We spent one day on the Gulf of Mexico on beautiful North Beach near Fort DeSoto. It is a very nice white sand beach with a gentle surf and very warm water. And seagulls. Lots and lots of seagulls. Seagulls that will actually rifle through your belongings while you are out in the water cooling off. Seagulls that like Cheetos. I like Cheetos. I hate seagulls. I digress… Anyway, it was nice to enjoy the water there, but more than anything we walked away from the gulf with cherry red skin and no Cheetos.
For me, the ocean is all about the surf. A few days later we were able to enjoy the Atlantic coast with a really nice surf breaking. When we got there, the rollers were coming in around 2 feet, but later on they started to get bigger and come in faster. At times they were 3+ feet tall, and it was a lot of fun to dive and play in the surf.
I’m kinda funny, but one thing I love to do in the surf is try to stand as the waves really crash against me. I will brace myself with one leg forward and one back and just try to see how long I can stand against the pounding. I would do pretty well for a while. I’d rock a little bit, but was always able to keep my footing and stay upright. Until… Yeah, that crazy wave that would kinda hit from an angle right after a good hit from the front. That was when I would lose my footing and tip over. Then the undertow would grab me and pull just as another wave would hit and push. I’d flop around for a little while trying to just stand back up again, but I couldn’t just stand. I would need to drop to my knees and get stability before I could stand again. I did it over and over again with the same result.
The next day, we were sitting and having a little devotional time with our friends Carl and Lois. Carl shared James 4 with us out of the Message paraphrase. I was struck by the following verses:
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
– James 4:7-10
I was immediately taken back to the day before. Playing my game in the ocean. Goofing around and how I had to drop to my knees before I could stand. I couldn’t miss the lesson there.
How many times have I stood up against the stuff in my life with a sense of faulty confidence? Allowing the waves of my own sin to wash over me and feeling like I could handle it? Thinking of all of the crutches that I might have been using to stay upright. Then it would happen. I would be hit by something out of left field. Something that would take my resolve, my strength, my attention from where it needed to be to “hold it all together” and I would go down.
How many times have I flailed around in my pride? How much time hand energy have I wasted in an attempt to “get myself right” before God while the waves just kept pounding me and I kept rolling in the surf? Too many. Simple answer. Too many.
Thinking back, the verses are right. It takes saying no to the things around me, but it can’t stop there. It must require a “yes” to God. A humbling of myself. Admitting I am wrong and realizing my need to put God back at the front of my mind where He belongs. Give Him the control He deserves as Lord of my life. Hit my knees and repent of pride and the sin that has been allowed to work in me.
Relentless living is not always standing in the fray and fighting. Relentless growth takes place on our knees. I can’t stand against the fray sometimes, but when I am on my knees, God will always be there to help me to my feet.
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong