Sunday, July 25, 2010

Battle of the voices -- and getting to the mountain

Do you ever feel like you have your whole day laid out in front of you but you just can't get the spark of inspiration to get started? Well that was where I was ... stuck in the lazyboy chair and getting a mental beat down from that negative sense of self that kept reminding me, as each moment passed, that I was not getting anything done -- nor would I, unless I hurried up and got myself motivated. Oh the pressure!

Finally in a moment of helplessness and humility, I reached out to God and said "Alright Father, what do You want me to do?" Immediately, that clear and familiar voice (in my thought) answered: "Go do what you love to do." With that, I found myself launching out of the reclining chair exclaiming, "Surf Fence-line!"

Now it might sound crazy to think the answer to getting to a full day of work would be to go out and surf a remote break that is an hour away from my door to the water. In fact as much as I know to obey that voice that said "Go do what you love to do", I was instantly badgered by that voice of mortal reason that asserted "oh please ... you have car stuff, house stuff, bill stuff, work stuff to do ... not only that ... the swell has dropped ... and you surfed yesterday! No way are you going surfing right now!"

As if to aide me in deciding which decision was right, I called my friend "B." who is always beyond enthusiastic to go surf this spot and tends to drag me out when I'm not feeling it. Surprisingly, his answer was "NO" "Too much traffic to get there." Click. Undeterred but still unsure if I should follow that answer from the clear and familiar voice ... I convinced myself to load up my car and drove to the beach just down the street. Hoping the waves there could help validate investing precious moments of my eroding day traveling. I certainly did not want to waste two hours in transit to and fro just to get skunked -- not catching a wave.

As I drove up to the local pier (whose waves looked meager, wind blown and uninspiring) I received a call from my close friend "A." who upon learning what I was out and about to do blurted, "Are you nuts!?" "You have car stuff, house stuff, bill stuff, work stuff to do!" When I replied that I had prayed about what to do and this was my answer. I was met with the ridicule of, "R I G H T ... God told you to go 'surf'" Essentially the rest of the commentary was: "um, you must be an idiot to think you're going to get anything done by going surfing." Click.

With that, I headed south determined to prove to myself that the clear and familiar voice was right and that the doubting voices were wrong. As I reached the coastline near my destination the ocean looked flat and listless. As I suited up the voice of mortal reason was stating that I was making a mistake; that this was a worthless endeavor. Moreover, as I made the twenty minute walk down the trail and paddled around the point the same voice of reason was exclaiming "why did you choose your smallest lightest board over your proven performance board that you own just for this specific break? Even if there were waves (which at this point looked like an unreality) you won't be able to catch a wave on this puny board!"

Within eyesight of the reef to be surfed, I was surprised to see a couple surfers standing on the shore right in front of where I wanted to go out. While walking towards them, I noticed, the ocean was giving its best impression of a flat, glassy, lake! Greeting the surfers, they commented that they had been watching for thirty minutes without seeing one wave ... frustrated, they turned around and traced my sandy foot prints back towards civilization.

Left alone and desiring to get wet ... I stepped into the ocean ... and suddenly it was as if someone had just turned on the wave switch! It was perfect! There I was catching long, shoulder to head high, bowl shaped waves that resembled a skateboard ramp. Not only was I riding the unproven puny board ... I was ripping those waves pretty darn good. The beauty of the backdrop and foreground, the thrill of riding the ocean's unexpected energy, and the conquest over the voices of doubt were all an affirmation of Love's presence. If that wasn't enough ... surfing without a leash ... I was separated from the board several times and watched the following waves launch it hopelessly into the rocks -- an event which normally leads to serious injury and demise to a thinly glassed foam board. I'm telling you, there was definitely divine approval for this surf session because my board did not get scratched, dented, or dinged!

After 1 1/2 hours of ride a wave in, paddle back out, and then catch another ... I finally climbed out of the water, sat on a rock, and watched the empty waves peel in on their kamakaze course to the shore -- each one tempting me to jump back in for more. The instant I realized I had been satisfied with the session and that it was time to leave, the wave action shutdown. Again, it was as if someone had flipped a switch (this time off). Walking along the sandy shore back to civilization I felt the warmth and presence of Life. In that moment I realized in small measure the challenges Jesus must have faced on his way up the mountain to commune with God.

Clearly the Christ can do all things, but it must have been a huge demonstration in itself to get away from the masses. After a full day of healing the sick and feeding about 5,000 men (not counting the women and children who also ate) with the five loaves of bread and two fish. "... Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." 1

I believe each of us needs a "mountain" to go to. It does take a certain amount of exercise to go up the hill which helps us let go of the day's cares, and forces us to relax, as well as breathe some fresh air and clear our thoughts. From here it is certainly easier to pray and get our awareness of divine Presence. The challenge is finding our mountain. For some their mountain might be swimming, others it might be going on a bike ride, whereas for some it might be heading out for a surf -- either way this mountain is where we should feel most alive expressing our true selves. Many might know where their mountain is but they just can't get their feet moving up there-- just like a multitude of reasons voicing why I had no business going surfing this day.

God really does want us to enjoy His kingdom! Serving Him is never punishment or drudgery. Being obedient had its reward, I felt those waves and that experience of solitude in nature were a tangible connection with a living universal consciousness that knows me and wants to show me His Love.

In that moment of awareness on the beach, I was just coming back from the "mountain" refreshed, inspired, and satisfied ... knowing full well I could get all that "stuff" (that was waiting for me) done in quick order. And sure enough, I did!

1 Matt 14: 22,23


Cameron L. Martindell said...

Dude. Call me next time that inspiration hits!

Jessica Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica Lane said...

I love this story! I have had similar experiences- totally resonates- but sometimes the idea comes and I start to doubt...this blog piece has been a helpful reminder when that happens! :-)