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Surfing with the Sharks

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

This week I had a chance to surf New Smyrna Beach, Florida, the shark bite capital of the world. And I use the word “surf” loosely. It took me three hours to get up twice. But I got up. And much to my dismay I didn’t see one shark.

But that’s the crazy things about the shark attacks at New Smyrna Beach, you usually don’t see them coming. The water there is cloudy, not clear so you have to swim and surf there by faith, not by sight. You face the fact that there could be sharks, that you could get chewed on for a bit and then you decide to surf, swim or lay on the beach.

It kind of reminds me of the risks that we take when we choose to advance the kingdom of God by advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see sharing the gospel is the equivalent of surfing with the sharks in the spiritual realm. Satan and his demonic predators patrol their domain looking for Christians to take a bite out of.

The Great Dark Shark, just like The Great White one, doesn’t jump out of the water onto the beach and gnaw on someone who is drinking a Pina Coloda. No, he focuses his hollow eyes on those who get in and try to do something. The more of a splash they make the more of a target they become. As Richard Baxter said some five hundred years ago, “Satan will seek to do the most harm to those who seek to do his kingdom the most damage.”

Now, when it comes to surfing in the shark bite capital of the world, I am nothing special. There were tons of surfers out in the water that day. Even Jeremy, my eight year old son, sat on his boogie board for hours “surfing” the waves closest to the shore. And my little girl went in waist deep (which is about 20 inches on her!) and splashed around for a long time. As a matter of fact the locals at New Smyrna Beach know that the shark danger has been overblown. Most of the “bites” aren’t from huge sharks but three to five foot ones. This means that stiches, not prosthetics, are the order of the day in this cool little beach town.

Don’t get me wrong, surfing at New Smyrna Beach has its dangers but they are nothing compared to the real danger lurking underneath the surface for Christians who choose to dive into the waves of the kingdom of darkness to rescue those who are lost. Satan doesn’t nip, he bites. His demons don’t circle, they attack. There’s nothing in the world they would like more than to have a feeding frenzy on your life and mine. If you don’t believe me just ask Job, the original surfer of the Old Testament (or was that Jonah?) Satan doesn’t want to take a bite out of crime he wants to take a bite out of you. The beaches of history are littered with the bones of his victims.

But here’s the deal, this primary predator of the underworld who so desperately wants out of his territory can’t touch us if we are surfing for souls in the power of Christ. Maybe that’s why Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with a reminder to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power….” The power of God is the ultimate shark repellent and we must constantly remind ourselves to use it. Because it is the one time that we forget to operate in it that our menacing, many toothed enemy will be ready to do a “duh, duh…duh, duh” jaws-like surge right at the exposed parts of our lives.

So here’s my question for you: are you surfing for souls? Are you doing it in the power of Christ? Or are you relaxing on the beach watching the action?

And here’s my challenge for you: Put the Pina Colada down, wax your board and dive in. Make a splash and share the gospel to as many people as you can. Surf with holy boldness knowing that as long as you are clothed in the power of Christ that Satan’s bite will have no sting and leave no marks.

Remember to smile as you surf. After all the Christian life is a blast and riding the waves of evangelism is a rush. You can even can smile at the circling fins knowing that someday soon Christ will make all of them sushi.

Shreddin’ the Gnar,

Unlikely Fighter

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The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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