A little while back I had a day off work on a beautiful autumn day so I headed down to my local beach hoping to head out for a surf.
When I arrived there was just one other car there. It was a beautiful sunny, offshore day with a very small swell, which suits old bloke surfers like me. I sat there for a few minutes and watched some waves roll in. Small… fast breaking, but definitely ridable and best of all, no one out. That’s a rare find at any break these days so I decided to watch a bit longer and started considering paddling out. I hopped out of the car and stood in the carpark and got talking to the other guy.
‘Not much happening here’ he says.
He was on his phone checking some data on the net. ‘I’ve been here 30 minutes now’, he said. ‘The sets are at 5 minute intervals, the tide is rising…’ and so he went on with info about swell interval, wind direction and tide movement.’ On his phone he had every piece of data you could want on what the surf was like today and it told him that it wasn’t any good. Now I’ll grant you it wasn’t the best day you’ve ever seen, but fun waves and no crowds is surely a win in itself.
After he drove off I decided to paddle out and in the next hour I had a good 15-20 waves. I came in weary but having had a lot of fun.
The difference was that I simply paddled out into what I saw rather than analysing the ‘data’ and making a decision based on that. I think we do this often in life. We look at the data, see that the numbers don’t seem to add up and then disregard our inner hunches that there might be something there.
Now to be sure – there are times to listen to the data, when the evidence is overwhelming, but there are also times when you just have to ‘paddle out’ and take the risk. There are times when your gut is your best guide. It doesn’t always pay off but frankly, the ‘numbers’ don’t tell you everything either.
When it comes to faith some people look at the ‘data’ and conclude that ‘the numbers don’t add up’. The evidence doesn’t seem to point to the existence of a God (although it very much depends on whose evidence you are listening to.)
And then there are others who get a sniff of the truth and follow their instincts into the ‘water’, only to discover a reality they didn’t expect. Perhaps you’re in the carpark now and you have a sense that the ‘truth’ is out there? Maybe you have sensed it for a while but you haven’t known where to head with your internal rumblings.
Maybe you need to ‘paddle out’ and see for yourself? Yes – its a risk. You might be the only one paddling out and you could look silly. It might not all work out as you’d hoped. But could it be that there is a greater reality that you are missing out on because you just haven’t taken the risk? Could it be that the so called ‘evidence’ you are currently relying on is in fact flawed?
A long time ago the prophet Jeremiah recorded God’s message to his people – ‘you will seek me and you will find me if you search for me with all your heart’. Those words were written to another people a long time ago, but their truth is as real for us today. ‘If you seek me you will find me if you search for me with all of your heart.’
A few centuries later the early church leader Paul said that ‘God is not far from any one of us.’ Perhaps the inner stirring you are experiencing is actually the spirit of God at work, drawing you towards him. Perhaps the dissatisfaction with your current reality is the first step in finding life as it was intended to be lived.
For some folks to ‘seek God’ seems an odd thing to do – and yet I would suggest that this is why we were created – to know God and to live in close relationship with him and then follow his leading in life. I believe that as we live in close connection with God we see opportunities open up, relationships form and life comes together in ways that make sense.
It is as we seek God that we discover who we really are – that we tap into our true identity as his much loved sons and daughters.
Perhaps its time to look past the data and follow your heart into the water, to discover that the God you are seeking is right there if you will take a step towards him.