Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).
Day 1: Don’t Look Down
But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” (Matthew 14:30 MSG)
After first seeing and hearing about stand up paddle boarding (SUP), I decided I was going to try it, but not on the ocean. I wanted to try it first on flat water, and figured there had to be a place near me here in Nashville since we have a large river and several lakes.
After a quick search online, I found a place at the marina closest to me that rents boards and offers a beginner course, making the thought of trying this new sport a little less intimidating. I invited a few friends to join me, but didn’t have any takers. I didn’t let the fact that I’d have to go solo stop me. I’ve been to the other side of the world to Australia by myself. I go hiking and biking by myself all the time. I could do this by myself too. And besides, I knew I wouldn’t be truly alone because God is always with me, and there would be some other newbies in the beginner class I could meet.
Not personally knowing anyone who had previously tried SUP, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be harder than it looked or easier than it looked. Would I have the balance to get up and stay up on the first try? I mean, you’re basically standing on water! I was sure it was something that probably doesn’t come naturally, at least not at first.
Despite how hot it was that day, I didn’t want to end up swimming with turtles in the Cumberland River if I could help it. So before heading out to the marina I prayed, “Lord, please let me be able to get up on the board on the first try and stay standing up.” (It’s true you can pray anytime about anything!)
Not only did God answer that prayer, but throughout the process of the beginner’s lesson, He showed me just how much this experience of learning SUP is a direct parallel to some of the lessons in His Word. For instance, just as I was about to stand up for the first time, the instructor told me to keep my focus on the horizon and not look down or I would likely fall in the water. As soon as she said that, I immediately thought of the story of Peter when he walked on water with Jesus:
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-30 MSG, 31-33 NIV) emphasis added
Peter started to sink because he took his focus off Jesus.
One of the other things the instructor told us was, “Your board will go where your eyes go.” This is why it is so important for us to guard what we look at and watch. If we take our focus off of God and peer down the path of darkness and destruction, before we know it we’re likely to be steering ourselves in that direction and heading down that road.
Take time like Jesus did to be by yourself and pray. Be like Peter and take a step in faith. Don’t look down. Keep your eyes on God, and when you feel like you’re sinking, reach out for Jesus’s loving hand. He will catch you.
Purchase the entire 30-day devotional
If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!
Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!
If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.