On the first Friday of May, we went wakeboarding for the first time. There was a small group of people joining us that morning and we were to take turns riding. Since it was our first time, the cable operator (also the facilitator) told us what to do when the cable starts pulling us. The instructions were pretty simple: hold onto the handle with both hands but really gripping only with the dominant hand and the other for support, bend forward, and let the cable pull you. Never pull the cable toward you.
So off we went with our first tries. Guess what, everyone in line pulled on the cable. And then the facilitator repeated the one thing he would keep on repeating the whole time we were there: Don’t pull on the cable.
It was so simple, but come to think of it, when you begin falling backward (as you are most likely to), what would you do? Wouldn’t you pull on the cable to help yourself get back up? I think that’s what everyone tried to do. But every single time we pulled on the cable, we fell. At first, it didn’t make sense. Not until the facilitator explained why we shouldn’t pull on the cable.
When we are standing on solid ground, we pull ourselves up with a string when we fall backward and we are able to get up. Right. It works because we are standing on a stable surface. But when we are standing on water with a board, that never works. When we try to pull ourselves up, the board always slides forward, and we fall completely into the water. That’s because we aren’t standing on solid ground or a stable surface. Water is fluid and will move and shape itself according to how you move. And then it made sense.
But understanding the concept wasn’t as easy as actually executing it. We then knew and understood that we shouldn’t pull on the cable, but we instinctively did. The reason why we couldn’t help but pull on the cable even though we knew it was the reason we fell each time was that it was counterintuitive not to! We are used to solid ground. We are used to the principles that operate on solid ground.
On my very first try, my body actually tensed up badly probably out of panic. My muscles suddenly became tight and sore. I started to shake lightly but uncontrollably. I dismissed it and continued trying to ride. Riding the first few times felt like such a struggle, actually. I felt overwhelmed when the cable started pulling, and my body still became stiff although not as much as it did during my first try. And I kept falling in the first maybe third or quarter of the length of the course. And then I’d have to wait for my turn again, just to fall. Again. I just couldn’t get it right. I told the facilitator that when the cable starts to pull me, things to do while riding come flooding into my mind. He then told me, kalimutan mo na lahat, basta ‘wag mo lang hilahin. (Forget everything I said. Just remember not to pull on the cable.)
I eventually got tired of falling every single time so I began to focus on not pulling on the cable. Haha! I really did have to focus on that single thing, and the first time I did that, I got to ride through maybe half the stretch of the course. How did it feel? Well, it felt great that I was able to ride that far! Haha. I was actually the first in the group to be able to ride that far. But another very noticeable thing was that I rode with much ease. I just let the cable pull me, and I effortlessly rode on with the subtle waves of the water. I just had to be still, bent down and holding onto the handle. It felt so light. After that, I just kept on improving. I rode farther each time.
I didn’t get to ride around the whole course tho. 😦 maybe next time. Hehe. Btw, those were my parents in the background, sorry. :))
I find this experience quite similar with our experience with God. Often, God gives us simple instructions. Yet we have a difficult time actually living them out because they run against the principles of the world, which we are so used to. The world tells us to rely primarily on ourselves while God tells us to rely wholly on Him. The world tells us to hold on while God tells us to let go. The world tells us to try even harder while God tells us to surrender even more. God gives us simple yet counterintuitive instructions. They may not make sense at first, but they eventually do. And he repeatedly reminds us about them, just like the facilitator did.
Like my first try riding, we sometimes feel like following God’s instructions is such a struggle, and we’re so confused and overwhelmed by all the things that are happening at once because our ways are so different. Or sometimes, because we are so used to performing and proving ourselves worthy, all 101 to-dos and rules that religion may have taught us weigh us down. But when we just ride on God’s grace and stop striving, it suddenly feels so light. This doesn’t just apply to those who are new in Christ. In fact, this is our everyday life as Christians. We do things in our own strength, we start falling, we strive even more to get back up, and we just fall even more. And then we say, I’m tired of falling. Lord, take control, lead the way, I’m just gonna cling to you. And then we stand amazed at how far we go when we just let the waves of God’s grace carry us through.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Corinthians 12:9a
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”