But, with big attentive eyes, he looks at me like he’s reading my mind, and choking back tears, he says, “I love you because you’re my son. I’m happy with you, and I’m happy you’re with me. It’s been too long since I’ve seen you. Come inside and tell me what’s on your mind.”
Now that’s he invited me to speak, I want to unload and tell him everything—the good, the bad, and the painful—but in this moment I still feel like I can only share in measures.
Seeing as I can know patient, tender kindness in a surf lesson, how much more can I expect it from a God of love when I forget to find my strength in the quiet and stillness of his arms?
Yes, put my feeble attempts in the hands of a national champion, and I receive kind instruction. I don’t listen well, but he’s patient with me. Each step of the way, he gives undivided attention and encouragement. He doesn’t seem to care a whole lot whether I stand or not. As we enjoy our time together, I notice that we passed the white wash and crashing waves. Out in calmer waters, we can see for miles and feel the rhythm of the ocean. Before long, after a couple of attempts and some kindness, I’m standing and riding waves.
I gather from my surf lessons that life under the law is a lot like expecting me to ride the waves first try, expecting a newborn to walk and yelling at him when he falls, or telling a caterpillar he’s fat and lazy. Instead of this foolish, draining way of existing, simply and plainly, God tells me what is good for me—to be loved and to love others1.
So then, how does Christ love me? He tells me that when I am weary and burdened, He will give me rest2. Moreover, He says that if I’m thirsty, He is the water of life, which won’t leave me parched3. Repeatedly, He asks me to come with my neediness, with my broken and contrite heart, and to receive His never-giving-up kindness and love.
Thus, when I forget that receiving His love requires me to admit my needs, it won’t be a shocker to him that I didn’t stand, that I got burnt, or that I did the thing I least wanted to do…again. In short, when I am not with Him, receiving love it won’t surprise him that I do not live and love fully.
So, if that’s all true, when I do come to him, drenched in my neediness and weariness, like so many bad teachers and bad companions, will he be mad or disappointed? Surely not.
As I follow him inside, He warmly and gently comes alongside me, saying,
“Come on in, Louie! You look weary and burdened. Won’t you stay awhile and rest? There’s a spot at the table for you. Your spot is right next to me, and we don’t have to talk. We don’t have to fix anything. Just come on in and be with me 4 .”
Every day, there will be work to do and chances to go surfing, but will I learn to know the joy of living in God’s presence? The cost of admission into this safe-place of tender kindness is my vulnerable neediness—am I willing to bring it? If I am, I’ll sit beside my Guide out in the deeper waters. Together, maybe with a couple more friends beside us, we’ll celebrate and enjoy our crazy world.
This way of walking with the Lord transforms how I think about my goals and my work here.