For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
Our Pastor Emeritus, Ken Arentson, shared an interesting article with the church’s Men’s Breakfast Group. The article, “Surfing the Problems” was written by Maryann McKibben Dana, and deals with trying to ride the problems of life with grace and dignity. McKibben Dana used the movie, “Mad Max: Fury Road” as her illustration. The movie is brutal in its post-apocalyptic world of destruction and apparent hopelessness. The movie was filmed in an African desert where the sand was blowing relentlessly. Filming was nearly impossible. But then the director had an epiphany. “Instead of cursing the wind,” he had the star, Charlize Theron, walk across a bridge on a dune and respond as if she had lost all hope. What had been a problem, became a pinnacle moment in the entire movie. McKibben Dana calls this an example of “Surfing the Problems.”
McKibben Dana discusses the challenges facing “congregations and denominations in this post-Christian reality.” She wonders how the faithful “might be called to surf the problems.” Some problems can be named, addressed, and resolved with some level of success. Other problems are more complex and do not have clear answers. What do we do when the problems feel apocalyptic personally or professionally?
The answer lies in designing a new life paradigm. Instead of muddling through, or plowing ahead, or just giving up, McKibben Dana challenges us to get up and start “Surfing the Problems.” “Surfing the problem means accepting on some level that many ‘problems’ cannot be solved. They can merely be managed, weathered…maybe even befriended.” Facing our problems without fear is key. When you surf, the wave is overwhelmingly powerful, but you, as the surfer, have some control how you ride it. The more you surf, the less you crash and the more you control how the wave affects you. In time, the wave no longer overwhelms you, but you can ride above.
Today, prayerfully think about how you handle the waves of problems that consume you. Every human being is forced to deal with life’s problems. We can fearfully panic, and allow problems to crash in on us, or we can learn to surf the waves. This is true of churches and each one of us individually. We may not be in a Charlize Theron apocalyptic movie, but we can still turn life’s hopeless moments into a great spiritual ride. It begins with trusting God’s spirit to help ride on life’s waves, without being consumed.