My seven-year-old is a natural athlete. Whatever he attempts, he does well. And Avry wanted to learn to surf like the kids on YouTube. My husband is a radical cheerleader when it comes to his children, and so he bought a thick, short surfboard. Avry carried the board down to the surf, full of excitement, certain he’d look like those young surfers on YouTube in just a matter of moments. He strutted down to the water, confident, a seven-year-old on fire for life.
Once in the water, with Mike’s help setting him off, Avry planted his feet flat and hard and caught a foamy wave poised for the shoreline. For a moment he rode it, a smile stretched across his freckled pink face. He whipped his red hair as he squealed with excitement.
That wave was just a taste of possibility. And then the waves came harder. One after the other. They crashed around him and over him. They crashed with a salty confidence – and Avry’s surfing skillset was no match for them. He couldn’t get his footing. His balance was elusive. He grew weary and frustrated. His face was flushed with sun and frustration.
My husband tried to speak encouragement over him. “You’re doing great!” “Keep going!” “Don’t give up, man!”
But the waves were big, mighty bullies. Avry was discouraged. Confused.
“But I have the light in me!” he shouted, tossing his arms down and kicking up the sand.
He was referring to the light of Christ. In his youth, he assumed that because he had Jesus in him, everything would come easily. Surfing would be a victory because he had the mighty warrior in him. He would dominate those waves because the lion roared from within.
Don’t we all struggle with this? The idea that because Jesus is in us life should yield to our light? Adversity and tragedy should bow down to the Almighty?
If you’ve been following Jesus long enough in your life, you know this is not the truth. The truth is that part of our destiny in our life as followers of Christ is to struggle and suffer and to have the waves beat down on us as the tide comes in faster than we can catch our breath.
And sometimes it feels unfair that the light inside us can make life a greater challenge than it is for those who don’t hold the light. That’s the way it can feel sometimes, right? But we’re missing the glory when we get stuck thinking about the weight of our trials. When we can’t stop whining about the waves crashing over our spirits.
We’re missing the beauty of it.
Paul tells us that we carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that his life may be revealed through us. What does that mean? We are meant to struggle, as each of those struggles not only brings us closer to Christ because they give us a taste of his suffering for us, but they also allow us to witness to others through our resilience and faith.
Because of the light inside of us, we are pressed down but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, struck down but never destroyed. The waves of this life will crash over us, battering us, but we’ll still wash onto the sand in victory.
I love how Paul encourages us through this Word. He acknowledges our struggles even as he guarantees them, and he reminds us of the value of Christ in us.
So when my sweet boy shouted in frustration that the waves weren’t yielding to the light in him, he sounded off the foghorn of a universal struggle we have as Christians.
But a week later, when he gave those waves another go, refusing to give up in spite of his previous defeat, and in the midst of the tide coming in with unrelenting powerful waves, he rode a wave nearly onto the beach. Mike and I screamed with excitement, jumping up and down like field-side cheerleaders after too many shots of espresso.
Because no matter the size of the waves we’re attempting to ride, when we have the light of Christ in us and we refuse to yield to anything BUT him, we’re poised for the ride of our life – and beyond. The struggle along the way increases the beauty of our victory. So bring your light to the fight!
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