Making Waves

wakesurfThe weather was perfect for a boat ride so I was thrilled when my boss invited me to join him and his son for a ride on the intracoastal waterway in Wrightsville Beach.

The boat is a slick little Super Air Nautique designed specifically for wakeboarding. As we tooled down the river with teens in tow, Chris explained that the boat actually uses built-in ballasts to take on water and increase weight. This lowers the hull in the water and creates a deep, surf-like wake.

We were literally making waves.

What happened next blew my mind. His son pulled himself into the deep wake just feet behind the boat and signaled his dad to adjust the speed. Once the wave was exactly to his liking, the intrepid teen tossed the tow rope into the boat and started surfing the artificial, boat-made wave. We sped down the waterway watching some great surf moves just out of reach of the back of the boat.

I was struck by how different this was than the surfing that occurs on the coast of Florida where I live. It was so much safer and more manageable to surf these manufactured waves than to ride the unforgiving swells of the Atlantic. These wake-waves were fully under the boat’s control–just change speeds or adjust ballast and the waves would be deeper, smaller, cleaner or more powerful. And they could be turned off with the flip of a switch.

Their single defining limitation was that we were making them.

How different from the crazy surfers dragged by jet skis or dropped by helicopters into killer waves that they will ride…or else. They have no control over the force of the water or the face of the wave…but what a ride! Epic. Historic. The stuff of legends.

I wonder how many times in my life I settle for making my own waves. Changing moves or momentum in the direction and trajectory of my life that make me feel like I am really going somewhere important or doing something significant. These surges in effort and energy artificially create a sense that I am embracing a risk, taking a chance or stretching a limit.

But in reality, I am choosing the safe, manageable and predictable lifestyle that comes when I am in charge. It is as if I am trying to replicate the wild, adventurous life of a person who is really allowing God to lead–only with more predictable and definable results.

Life on the edge without the risk. The vicarious unreality of a virtual reality.

In the pre-Augustinian Celtic Christianity of the British Isles there were two symbols that challenge me centuries later.

wildgooseThese organic believers chose as their visual image for the Holy Spirit not a dove, but a wild goose. They said the dove was too tame to represent the adventurous Spirit of God.

The routinized, domesticated “discipleship” of the modern church would have been far too generic, parochial and bland for them. They saw the vision of God for His people as a grand adventure full of breath-taking risk, fascinating pursuits and history-shaping impact.

Guiding this headlong rush into discovery was the Wild Goose soaring fearlessly into the unknown.

As Jesus told the inquiring Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)  There is an unsettling unpredictability in this path of chasing the Kingdom. It was no accident that the birth of the church at Pentecost involved an immersion in the Holy Spirit that was accompanied by a sound like “a rushing, mighty wind”.

God is passionate about building people and communities that are constantly watching the divine windsock for the next move He wants to make.

The second image came from the wandering travelers who set off into uncharted territory to express the love of Christ and power of His Kingdom wherever they could. These Peregrini simply set boats into waterways and hoisted their sails trusting that the Maker of the wind and waves would lead them to the place of maximum impact and fruitfulness.

peregriniThey were adventurers chasing the Wild Goose.

Their view of God was One who loved to take your breath away. The path of following Him was uncharted, unpredictable…and unforgettable.

Jesus constantly confronted those who expressed desire to “come after Him” with the risky nature of that pursuit. Some of His statements seemed offensive: “Let the dead bury the dead”; “no one who looks back is fit”; “unless you hate your mother and father”. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Jesus was not inviting us to a life we could manage, but to a life that mattered.

Is it plausible that much of the boredom with modern church-life is based on the fact that we, like the Nautique, are trying to make our own waves? No longer willing to trust the risky will of God, we manufacture significance through controlled programming and simulated passion.

What would happen if once again we decided to grab onto the Kingdom and ride divine movement into the face of the danger and darkness of the camp of our Enemy?

Jesus once startled his followers when He said, “the Kingdom is forcefully advancing and forceful men have been seizing it.” (Matthew 11:12) Like a scary powerful wave erupting on the ocean surface, the Kingdom is moving unseen and unstoppable in our world. It is non-negotiable…the gates of Hell will not stand against it! This is not a losing enterprise.

And we have the choice to grab our board and dive into that wave every day. We can be “forceful men” (people) who decide to catch this divine swell and ride it wherever it goes, because the risk is where you see the reality.

The ultimate Risky-Liver said if we choose to chase Him–REALLY pursue the One who pursued us–it would be heart-stopping and life-altering. It would not be safe–but what a ride! Epic. Historic. The stuff of legends.

So every day when I am tempted to settle into the banal safety of my manufactured waves, I want to be reminded of the truth that will change the mundane daily into meaningful eternal:

God is still making waves.

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