I really enjoy body surfing.
Well, I used to. When I was ten years old. I maybe did it when I was 14 or 15, but that was the last time. So it's been, what? Sixteen years since I did any body surfing?
*sigh* I'm getting so old.
During our first full day at the beach, I got out the boogie board our vacation house provided and tried my hand at it. Well, I guess I tried my whole body at it. As I got dumped in the surf and filled my hair and bathing suit with sand. I also taught my husband and my father-in-law how to do it. The waves were really big! We all caught a couple of them to ride in and had a great time doing it.
At one point in our surfing adventure, I got separated from my husband. I was just kind of floating on the boogie board and not catching any waves, and then I realized that I'd gotten really far out. I was past the breakers and farther out than I'd been—farther out than anybody else was. I was off the shelf and couldn't reach the bottom, so I tried to paddle toward my husband and the shore. It didn't seem to do any good.
I started to panic. I tried to swim, but I had that stupid boogie board with me. I couldn't figure out how to maneuver with that thing attached to me. I took it off my wrist, but that didn't help—I don't know what I thought that would accomplish. How did I get in this riptide and, more importantly, how would I get out of it?
Great. My first day at the beach, and I was going to be swept out to sea. And eaten by sharks. Clearly.
Then, instead of looking at my husband (who was way down the beach from me), I looked at the shore right ahead of me. That's not so far, actually, I thought. It was only then that I remembered an important fact: you're supposed to swim parallel to the shore, not toward it, to get out of a riptide. I'd read some beach safety website in preparation for our vacation—mostly because (like a dummy) I'd been watching a lot of Shark Week and River Monsters and wanted to know how to avoid the large, scary ocean animals who were clearly going to devour me. Especially since I'd suddenly become a tasty shark treat floating away in the ocean.
But I digress.
So I started to swim away from my husband, parallel to the shore. It brought me in close enough to ride a wave in, and then I walked back to our spot on the beach.
How many times do we start to panic when we start to get carried away by life? And we have a tendency to focus on variables instead of constants. I was looking toward my husband (who was in the water himself) instead of the shore, which wasn't going anywhere. As much as I love my husband, he's no lifeguard. I was trying to get to him, not to the shore, and he couldn't have rescued me. I needed to keep my wits about me and focus on what mattered.
I've done that so much. I try to rely on people who are dealing with waves and riptides of their own instead of allowing God to be my focus. He's not going anywhere. He's got the stability I need. I don't know why I panic and look elsewhere.
What do you do when life's riptides start to pull you out? Do you keep it together and head toward God? Or do you try to hang on to something else that's merely floating around in your life?