I spent an afternoon with my kids at the beach in Santa Cruz. Standing less than waist deep in the water, waves quickly climbed higher than my son’s head, then crashed frothy white on top of them, somersaulting my kids several feet towards shore. Jack and Calleigh marveled at the strength of the waves, the power of rushing water. I smiled, listening to their hardy belly-laughter.
In sharp contrast to my kids who got tossed around were a handful of teenagers riding on top of the waves. Timing and grace and bodyboards all came together in unison. The teenagers rode over the same waves that my kids were tumbling under.
In Romans 8:35, Paul describes wave after wave of hazardous happenings, but then boldly declares, “we are more than conquerors” (verse 37). It reminds us that, because of the work of the cross, we can overcome waves rather than being sent tumbling by them.
Confession: I (Gary) can quickly become overwhelmed. Waves of distress or pressure or anxiety occasionally rise higher than my head, crashing over me, sending me somersaulting through the rest of my day. I would love to blame it on the size of the waves, but my waves are no larger than your waves.
So what makes the difference between overcoming versus overwhelming?
I guess you could say that I want to become a better surfer in California. I don’t mean that in the literal sense, but I do pray that I grow and mature and rest in my Jesus who helps me overcome rather than get overwhelmed. By God’s grace, I will someday ride over the same waves that I currently tumble under.