I reverse the ute in tight, against the car park fence, and drop the tailgate to create a seat with an ocean view. We are the only ones at the beach on this still, warm autumn afternoon.
It’s 4pm and I’ve driven my son Sam down for an afternoon surf at our local break. The waves are small and he is the only one in the water. The tide is precariously low, exposing the reef, meaning his decision to use my surfboard might just bring us both unstuck.
He clambers across the reef and paddles out into the line up as I open my book. But it’s a weighty theological piece and it makes no sense to bury my head in it, while the ocean is doing its thing just 50m away and my son is surfing. Most days I’d be out there with him, but I had my share of waves earlier in the day.
Still, I love to bring him down here and sit in the autumn sun watching him learn and push himself.
So I lean back and watch as he paddles over waves, misses others, sits, waits some more and then misses more waves. I see him size them up but back out and I know that paralysing fear that grips you when you lack confidence and are learning.
I want to yell at him and coach — bellow instructions from the car park — but the truth is every hour in the water he’s learning and finding his way, figuring it out. He doesn’t need me in his ear assaulting him, imposing my will on him, ‘helping’ him. He just needs time…to develop courage and confidence.
So I sit and wait watching diligently, patiently, and then he gets one…paddles strongly into a left-hander he rides with unexpected confidence and composure. “You see! You can do it,” I want to call out, because I knew he could…and I think he knew he could too. He just had to actually do it.
I knew all the way home we would talk about that wave…we will relive that wave from every angle and in slow motion. And I will get a commentary on how big it really was (“It’s bigger when you’re out there, you know”), how shallow the reef was, how hard it was to catch…but how good it is when you do just commit.
And I would listen to it all, with pride, then we would do it again tomorrow.
And yes – that was the very wave in the picture.
Andrew is a part-time pastor, part-time retic bloke, full-time husband, dad and coffee snob (he’s also one of 98five’s 3 Minute Message pastors). He describes his blogs as unrefined, theological musings, random personal reflections and occasional naughtiness. backyardmissionary.com | Follow Andrew on Instagram