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Lessons I’ve Learned From Surfing

Every year on vacation we have what we call “Wilson Surf Day.”  Now keep in mind none of us actually know how to surf but our boys have no idea. In fact, they think I have a gold medal in surfing. Yesterday, all three boys got up on the board and I’ve got the proof.



This tradition started a few years ago and prompted something I wrote in my first book Plan B . Thought I would share it with you today.

This summer I scratched another item off my “bucket list”—my mental list of things I want to do before I die. I went surfing with my two oldest boys. I had a blast out there in the waves learning to surf. I had even more fun helping the boys learn how to do it.

It took a little while for us to get the hang of it. But eventually we discovered that surfing is all about timing.

If we got too far out in front of a wave, it would wash over us and we’d fizzle out. If we waited too long to get our momentum going, we might miss out on an incredible wave that could take us all the way in. Success for us was completely dependent on watching, being ready, and knowing exactly when to start paddling.

The boys had the most success when I would stand watch for them. They would be ready to start paddling, and I would be looking for the perfect wave for them. When I saw it I’d yell, “Go! Start paddling!” and off they’d go.

It quickly became obvious that two things were essential for the boys to successfully surf a wave.

First, they had to be ready. They had to be properly positioned on the board and watching me, ready to start paddling the minute I gave the word.

And second, they had to trust me for the timing. They had to wait until I said go. And when I said it, they had to paddle. They couldn’t hesitate a second.

And that’s another secret to faith and courage and trusting God in our Plan B situations. There’s timing involved—God’s timing.

There have been times in my life that God has sent incredible opportunities my way, opportunities that could move me past my disappointments and frustrations into a whole new way of living. But I simply wasn’t ready to move. I wasn’t paying attention. My thoughts and my focus were elsewhere. So I missed the wave.

There have been other times when I was ready but too anxious. I wasn’t willing to wait on God’s timing. So I took things into my own hands, got too far out in front, and wiped out.

I’m learning more and more that if I want God’s help in my life, I need to be ready for what he’s going to do. I have to be willing to wait for his signal. And when he says go, I’d better start paddling.

That’s a good thing to keep in mind in those times when you’re swimming around in frustration and disappointment, trying to cope with the loss of your dreams.

You might be terrified. You might be depressed and overwhelmed. You might be wandering aimlessly, not knowing what to do next. But now is the time to watch and wait for what God is going to do.

Because as Psalm 31:15 reminds us, our lives and our times are in God’s hands. And when he says go, it’s time to go.

When you sense the timing is right, I hope you’ll trust his voice.

You just might find that Plan B is the ride of your life!