The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
I saw it coming. I never saw it coming. Both are true, and the truth is, it didn’t matter. So about a month ago now, two-thirds of the family (that would be two of my three daughters and their families) were able to jail break and go to Florida for a week. The middle daughter had been going to the Palm Coast of Florida for the last several years and she suggested we give it a try. I was a reluctant participant.
You see, I was raised on the Northeast coast of Florida. My growing up years consisted of regular trips to the beach. Many years later I discovered the Gulf coast with its sugary white sands and clear blue-green waters and I was sold. Because of this, I wasn’t overly excited when the plans for the East coast were drafted. However, having done life being the only male in the house (there was my wife, three daughters, a girl dog, a girl cat or two and six female tropical fish. Even the mice in the barn were girls.) I realized that resistance was futile. So off to the East coast we went.
I was pleasantly surprised. We were about an hour or so South of Jacksonville (where I was raised) in a nice condominium complex. We shared the place with our middle daughter and family and it was just perfect. It overlooked the golf course with a great view of the ocean. The grounds were well maintained and it had two very nice pools—one family and one for the adults who liked things a little quieter. The normal vacation crowd was much smaller and that was good news given the COVID thing. The only problem was “they” were there.
“They” were waves. Pretty big waves. You see on the Gulf side you usually have little friendly waves. The waves gently bump into you and seem to say, “Hi, we are glad you are here.” The waves in the Atlantic are from the Southside of Chicago. They are gangster waves. When we went to the beach they were waiting. This is the part I remember from my growing up and from one or two vacations from earlier years. You can hear them before you see them. They are inviting you into the water—so they can bully you.
Anyway, we get to the beach and you know they didn’t look too intimidating. I mean they weren’t gentle “hey, glad you are here waves” but they weren’t “terminator” waves either. We set our stuff down on the beach and off we went into the water. First, I tested the waves with a knee deep stand. Not bad. Then I went a little deeper. Still not too bad but I could begin to feel them. They wanted me. They had my number.
I was out in waist deep water and realized the power of perception. Those waves that didn’t seem so big from shore were all of a sudden larger—much larger. I turned to talk to Judy who was close by and looked back just in time to see a large wave coming. Fortunately, I was able to keep my footing and survived the onslaught. I smiled. My sunglasses were still on my face and my hat was still on my head. I was an overcomer. Who’s the man now?! That’s when “Bruiser” came.
“Bruiser” was epic, “Bruiser” had one goal in mind—take me down. I saw him coming but it was too late. “Bruiser” was well over my head and broke right on top of me. One minute I was standing and the next minute I was in a washing machine of ocean water…in the spin cycle. When I came to surface, of which I was very grateful, “Bruiser” had moved on. My swim shirt was over my head, my hat was gone and my pride and body were a little bruised. He had won. I had taken on the big boy and come up short. Probably worse of all my Seattle hat, the one I had worn for several years was lost to the jaws of “Bruiser.” He never had a chance. May he rest in peace.
Well, one time in the spin cycle was enough for me that day. And somewhat gratefully I was glad to learn that others in the family had suffered similar fates. Even the son-in-laws got bowled over a time or two. Hats and sunglasses were lost but what was found was the joy of being with family. We had a good time.
I did learn, or perhaps more accurately, relearn a lesson about the waves of the Atlantic. They can be pretty powerful. Usually there is a flag system that warns of particularly rough waves. Our beach didn’t have that, but I later heard on the news there had been some big waves. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes they manage to sneak in but even when you see them coming, they can take you down.
Life is the same way. A day at life’s beach can quickly turn into a spin cycle of ocean water. We can get bowled over by circumstances, uncertainties, tragedies and pandemics. Even when we see them coming, they can be overwhelming. After my encounter with “Bruiser” that day, I decided it was time to visit the pool—eventually all of us did. The Bible says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” Translated another way that means there is a time to swim in the ocean and there is a time to head to the pool. Wisdom is knowing when to do what. Wisdom is also knowing that no matter what life throws at you, we can rest in the One who makes the waves because He’s got this.