Come On Over – Ben Mays

I was bent forward, every muscle tensed, yet my feet were losing grip of the sand beneath me.

If you have never visited one of Auckland’s west coast beaches, this may sound terrifying. Dangerous. Wild. While there are bays galore around the city for gentle paddling, the west coast is known for its rough surf.

This particular day, Bethells Beach – the one featured in Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woods video, pop culture fans – was churning with a fresh ferocity. I watched friends struggling to move further into the water and then being helplessly pushed back towards shore with each new wave. It was exhilarating but exhausting. Yet only metres away, before the surf break, the water looked calm and steady. For a few bold swimmers, if they could just push past that collision point, there was flat water.

No strain. No struggle. Smooth sailing.

It reminds me of a word we often glance over the in New Testament. Abraham is a name familiar to most – after all, he is at the centre of most of the Old Testament. The generations that follow him identify themselves by him, even many years after his death. Yet was identified in his own time as “a Hebrew.” It’s believed to be a derivative of Eber, one of Abraham’s ancestors, a man who barely gets more than a passing mention in the book of Genesis. Why Abraham carries a sense of identity from him and not the many others in the family line is never explained. Yet the meaning of “Eber” is significant – “the region beyond” or, more figuratively, “to cross over.”

Abraham is called the father of faith. The journey of faith for all of us to go into regions beyond, to cross over, to reach and stretch for what is not easy. It’s the calm beyond the waves. It’s the miracle beyond the setback. It’s the potential beyond the struggle.

I have moments and situations in my life that need overcoming. I would love to put that in past tense but they are very much part of my present. Sometimes the cards don’t fall the way I would like them to. Sometimes health reports come back negative. Sometimes the breaks I have been relying on don’t happen. Even today, I am praying for friends facing heartbreak and needing strength like never before. It is maddening and disappointing.

I’ve learned to understand the challenge to overcome is an invitation to “come over” to where God stands on the other side. If he calls me, it can be conquered. His invitation is an open hand, urging me to hang on, walk in faith and get where I could not get to by myself. The view from the other side is not only thrilling but steels me to do it again.

You know the expression: no pain, no gain. Let me rephrase it: no opportunity for fear, no opportunity for faith. God’s designs for life are far more audacious and exciting than we often given him credit for. Let us rephrase every overcoming moment as an invitation to “come on over” to God’s goodness and providence on the other side.

Ben Mays
Life Leadership College Principal

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