CATCH YOUR WAVE
Bethany Hamilton . . . . Anybody recognize the name of Bethany Hamilton? She was a 13-year old up-and-coming surfing champ who, on October 31, 2003, went out on the waves one beautiful Saturday morning. But while she was lying on her board, her arm hanging casually in the water waiting for the wave, a 14-foot tiger shark bit once and then disappeared, taking off her left arm just below the shoulder.
In one of the first interviews after the attack, she told The Associated Press she would surf again despite her loss. Less than a month later - on Thanksgiving Day - she returned to the water and just ten weeks later, in January of 2004, she returned to surfing competition.
She has also written a book entitled Soul Surfer in which she chronicles her experiences. Bethany has chosen to use her experience to become an inspiration and to help others to overcome adversity, no matter how great. She writes: "People I don't even know come up to me. I guess they see me as a symbol of courage and inspiration. One thing hasn't changed-and that's how I feel when I'm riding a wave. It's like, here I am. I'm still here. It's still me and my board-in God's ocean!"a
"It's still me and my board -- in God's ocean!" What a great line. That is our line for this morning as we "Catch Our Wave to the Abundant Life."
This month's theme: "I have come so that you might have life and have it more abundantly" - Master Teacher Jesusb
"And so we prepare not to die, but to live!"c - Ernest Holmes
How many of you know how to surf? Not the internet! Surf on a wave. Most people don't know how. You have to learn the process.
Today, with young Bethany Hamilton as our role model, we're going to look at the idea of surfing as a metaphor for living the abundant life. And just like most of us don't know how to surf, most of us don't really know how to be abundant in every area of our lives either.
We all have to learn. That's why we're here, that's why we invest in classes, in seeking greater knowledge and understanding.
Four ideas from surfing that can serve us today:
1. Point your surfboard toward the shore.
2. Start paddling.
3. Practice catching the waves that come along.
4. Be willing to take the risk!
1. POINT YOUR SURFBOARD TOWARD THE SHORE.
1. Point your surfboard toward the shore.
In other words, get in position. Know where you are going. What does the abundant life mean to you? Truly mean to you. Take time to reflect. Get a mental equivalent of that.
Ernest Holmes tells us every day to spend time seeing that which we wish to experience: "If day by day we have a greater understanding and a clearer concept, if daily we are realizing more of Truth and applying It in our actions, then we are on the right path. It is a wonderful experiment and a great adventure to make conscious use of the Law; to feel that we can paint an idea in Mind and see it gradually take form. The student should take time every day to see his life as he wishes it to be to make a mental picture of his ideal. He should pass this picture over to the Law and go about his business, with a calm assurance that on the inner side of life something is taking place."d
So before the wave comes, we need to be in position. This also means we must learn what we need to learn NOW. Release what we need to release NOW! Before the opportunity comes. In fact, so that the opportunity can come!
Get in position by opening up to greater and greater and even greater possibilities. Look for them! Why do some people get lots of opportunities for greater abundance and some don't? Because some are looking for it and others cannot see.
In Lawrence Blair's book, Rhythms of Vision: The Changing Patterns of Belief, (and also a story told in the movie What The Bleep) Blair refers to an accounting of Magellan's first landing at Tierra del Fuego. The explorers were met by the native people, people isolated for centuries by their canoe culture. Though the large hulking ships were in full view of the harbor, the native people were not able to see them. The idea of ships was so far beyond their experience that the physical ships were actually invisible to them.
And it wasn't until the wise shaman -- realizing that the newcomers had to have arrived in something -- pondered and divined the matter until he was able, at last, to see the ships. The shaman then brought it to the attention of the villagers that the strangers had arrived in something, something which, although preposterous beyond belief, could actually be seen if one looked very carefully.
With gestures, drawings, and words, he patiently described the ships in the bay again and again until the entire tribe could see them.
The Fuegans (fwagens), lacking experience, familiarity, or history of ships had no frame of reference -- no context -- to see the sailing vessels anchored before their eyes. Until they could understand it -- have it discovered and then interpreted to them by their shaman -- they were not able to conceive it visually.e
Ernest Holmes: "Could we see the mentality of a successful person, we should find the imprint of success written in bold letters across the doorway of his consciousness. This person is sure of himself, sure of what he is doing, certain of the outcome of his undertakings. As much gathers more, as like attracts like, so success breeds greater success, and conviction is attended by certainty. The whole teaching of Jesus is to have faith and to believe."f
Use your prayer work to build the mental acceptance of your abundant life. When you BELIEVE it, you'll SEE it!
2. START PADDLING.
2. Start paddling.
You're in position, facing the right direction, you have built up your mental acceptance of your abundance, now what? Start paddling!
Former NBA center and coach Johnny Kerr said his biggest test as a coach came when he coached the then-expanding team the Chicago Bulls and his biggest player was 6'8" Erwin Mueller.
"We had lost seven in a row, and I decided to give a psychological pep talk before a game with the Celtics," Kerr said. "I told Bob Boozer to go out and pretend he was the best scorer in basketball. I told Jerry Sloan to pretend he was the best defensive guard. I told Guy Rodgers to pretend he could run an offense better than any other guard, and I told Erwin Mueller to pretend he was the biggest, best rebounding, shot blocking, scoring center in the game.
We lost the game by 17 points. I was pacing around the locker room afterward trying to figure out what to say now when Mueller walked up, put his arm around me and said 'Don't worry about it, Coach. Just pretend we won.'"g
Do you build momentum before the wave or after? BUILD MOMENTUM BEFORE YOU NEED IT. Start paddling to get your momentum up.
Take some action. Build some momentum. Start paddling. Do something. Practice catching waves.
3. PRACTICE CATCHING THE WAVES THAT COME ALONG.
3. Practice catching the waves that come along.
There is more than one opportunity in life. Just practice catching some. Once you build your momentum any wave is an opportunity for you. How many have heard that opportunity only comes once? How many have seen two opportunities? How many have seen more?
You're waiting for the big wave. You have to build your momentum so you are ready for the opportunity.
There are people who are waiting for the big one. But the process is that once you have built your momentum any wave is an opportunity for you.
No such thing as a mistake! Ralph Waldo Emerson, often considered the Father of New Thought once said: "Our greatest glory isn't in 'never failing', but in rising up every time we fail."h
In Building Your Field of Dreams Mary Mannin Morrisey writes: "If you know in your heart of hearts that you have done everything possible to succeed and what you have set your heart upon does not come to pass, then you can trust that something better is trying to happen. God's will is for our greatest good. Sometimes we fail because we have not been diligent enough, persistent enough or willing enough to do what is required. Other times we have truly done all that can be done and we still fail. Then our challenge is not to stare longingly at a door that is bolted shut but to find the open window where a guiding light beckons. You have to lean into the new dream, even if you can barely glimpse its outline from where you stand. Move toward the light and lean toward the good. If you become bitter, your capacity to see future opportunities dies with your failed dream. When you stay feeling sorry for yourself, you cannot grow."i
4. IT IS WORTH THE RISK!
4. It is worth the risk!
Is there any risk in surfing? Sure, you could break a leg.
Is there any risk of just lying on the board with your arms dangling in the water? Yes, Bethany Hamilton certainly would say yes to that.
Yes there is risk in surfing, but the biggest risk is when you do nothing.
Yet, but the biggest risk is when you do nothing.
This is where TRUST comes in in a big way.
The Scripture at Luke 12:11-12 tells us: "Do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."j
Here's a good way to understand and remember what trust is:
T is for Totally
R is for Rely
U is for Upon
S is for Simple
T is for Truth.
So trust means we must totally rely upon the simple truth that God is good - all the time, 24/7!
1. Point your surfboard towards the shore and get in position.
2. Start paddling. You have to build your momentum so you are ready for the opportunity.
3. Catch the waves. There is more than one opportunity in life. Just practice catching some. Once you build your momentum any wave is an opportunity for you.
4. Is there risk? Yes, but the biggest risk is when you do nothing.
In the foreward of her book Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton writes: "In the end, I'm really proud of what we've written here. I think it's truthful, and I hope it inspires and motivates people to tackle any obstacles in their lives. I hope it helps people find faith in God and in their own strength and ability. I hope it motivates someone going through a tough time right now to keep on fighting until they rise above it. You can and will get through it. I'm living proof that where there's a will, there's a way. What I don't want is for people to pity me or think of me as a person who has had her life ruined. That's not how I see it. My mom is always saying," If life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Which is a great outlook on life, if you can actually see beyond the lemons when you're up to your eyeballs in them!
My strength came from my relationship with God and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends. In a lot of ways I'm like any fourteen-year-old girl, and in a lot of ways, I'm not. I don't pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people. But I do know that God knows all those answers. I also know that I want to use what happened to me as an opportunity to tell people that God is worthy of our trust, and to show them that you can go on and do wonderful things in spite of terrible events that happen.
I don't think it does any good to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. I made myself a promise: I'm not going to wallow or walk around moaning, "Woe is me!" One other thing you should know: this book really doesn't have an ending yet because I am still learning how to cope every day. I'm not talking about learning how to button my top with one hand. I'm talking about coping with being a celebrity. Or coping with people's stares, either because they recognize me, or because they are not used to seeing a person with one arm running down the beach. Or coping with answering endless questions from the media and seeing my face in newspapers and magazines. I'm also learning to cope with the frustration of knowing that if I had both arms to paddle, I just might have done a little better in a surf contest that I have just been in.
I am excited about some of the opportunities to travel and surf all around the world that have come as a result of my attack and return to surfing. But most of all I am excited about what the future holds. Will I make it to the pro ranks in surfing? Will my lifelong friend and surf buddy, Alana, be paddling next to me in the years to come, as she is now and was during the attack? Will I be able to make a difference, in some small way, in people's lives by sharing my story?"
What does God have in store for me? I really don't know, but I do know one thing for sure: The adventure is only started."k
Catch Your Wave, my friends - Catch your Wave! Because the adventure to the abundant life which Jesus promised has only started.
aBethany Hamilton Soul Surfer
dErnest Holmes Science of Mind p. 271
eLawrence Blair Rhythms of Vision: The Changing Patterns of Belief
hRalph Waldo Emerson
iMary Mannin Morrisey Building Your Field of Dreams
kBethany Hamilton Soul Surfer