It’s easy to express gratitude—a real spirit of thankfulness—when things are going well. Say you’re having a session where all the cards fall your way: you are consistently picking off the best waves in the set, and ripping them all the way to the sand. Because you are standing out, people are getting out—out of your way. You’ve proven yourself to be the alpha male (or female, as applicable) in the line-up. Now add to that some sunny skies, offshore winds (or slightly onshore, if you like to punt), a few dolphins frolicking out the back to add to the mood, and you’ve got yourself something to really be thankful for. You could easily make these moments fully spiritually, by bowing your head and talking to the God who masterfully created these waves, those dolphins, your mind and your body to enjoy it all and saying, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
But not every day is like that day. Say you hit your local reef/point set-up on a good double overhead swell with the tide dropping out a bit and the wind still calm, even though it’s the middle of the day. You jog on the point and time your go out well, not taking too many waves on the head. Your energy is conserved, ready to ride waves. Out in the line up, you sit and wait.
And wait. And watch. Watch as other surfers around you pick off waves and ride them cleanly. Wanting to exercise good surf ettiquete, you refrain from burning them on the shoulder. You wait. And still, no waves come your way.
You paddle north. A peak pops up to the south. You paddle into the shallows and then promptly get cleaned up by a set. You paddle out the back, and continue to miss waves that roll through and detonate cleanly on the reef. Finally in position, you paddle for a wave but pull back because it looks to close out. It doesn’t. It peels with machine-like precision to the beach instead.
So go ahead, paddle outside, bow your head, and have a conversation with the Creator: “What is going on? What sin did I commit? Why won’t you give me a break?” That could be one way to respond.
But the other? “Thank you God, for this time I can spend with you in your ocean. Thank you, as I paddle out, for the ‘awakeness’ I feel when I punch through that first wave. Thank you for a board to float me, a wetsuit to warm me, a leash to save me from the full penalty of my surfing transgressions. Thank you for the way I feel when I am in your ocean. You created it well. You do all things well. Thank you for one more day to be with you, and to surf for you.”
There’s a lot of things that can go wrong in any given surf session: dings, run-in’s with the locals, blowing the wave of the day with your friends cackling as they watch from the channel. But with thankfulness woven in, you can’t go wrong. It is always right to give thanks. It always fits.
“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”