They splashed and they flopped, those aspiring wind surfers. Day after day we chronicled their struggles. It looked simple enough: a surfboard, a detachable sail with a length of rope tied to it, water, wind, and, of course, instruction.
But how they flopped! First the sail would go flat in the water, with the surfer going splash under the water on the other side, or making a quick jump to avoid being clobbered by the mast. Then would come the struggle to get aboard again, the balancing act, the careful pulling of the sail back to position—then plop! It all had to be done over again.
Last year we discovered a few surfers who had more or less mastered the art. They skimmed about with surprising skill even on rough days. One had so much confidence that he even sailed with his jacket on, maneuvering his craft skillfully wherever he wished it to go. I kept hoping he would flop just once, but he had learned well.
He was, we discovered, the instructor.
We watched surfers go to the aid of a fallen surfer, heard them shouting encouragement to one another. And when the instructor spoke, they listened, and tried carefully to do what he said. Wind surfing is a challenge, a skill to be mastered. It is a practice in unending patience and dogged determination.
Like wind surfing, the Christian life is simple but not easy. And we are not born into God’s family fully grown, although at times we treat baby Christians as if they should have been.
We who are older in the Christian walk, and those who through experience have earned the status of instructor, should be quick to encourage, quick to help the one who has fallen. We who have not yet mastered the art of Christian living need to keep carefully studying our Book of Instructions, listening attentively when our Instructor speaks, and promptly following his instructions.
Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh once said: “The perseverance of the saints consists in ever new beginnings.”
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