My son lives on the North Shore of Hawaii. He is a champion surfer. The North Shore is where many of the massive waves originate that we see in the movies and on posters. He calls his father and me several times a week to give wave updates, chat and exchange notes on friends and family.
“Mom, you must see Soul Surfer,” he told me the other evening. I didn’t comment. I sat a bit shocked. He is not into syrupy and my impression of the movie was that this Disney film fit into the to the Disney stereo-type frame. “I cried all the way through it.” This time I was speechless. My son doesn’t cry at movies.
Then he explained. “The filming is magnificent. Only a surfer could really understand how good the wave scenes are. But it’s the story. Mom, it’s the story. Bethany’s story.”
He continued, “On the North Shore, none of the surfers say, ‘I can’t.’ If the waves are massive and ‘I can’t’ is used, everyone will chime in together, ‘Bethany Hamilton surfs these waves with one arm. Don’t you dare say, I can’t.’
“And,” he said knowing his next words would peak my interest, “Disney didn’t play down her relationship with the Lord. The movie told it like it is.”
In case you’ve been a bubble for the past years, Miss Hamilton is a young woman who lost her arm to a shark while surfing as a teenager. A surfing prodigy, she believed that her life-long dream of becoming a professional surfer was gone. But her faith kept her going in that direction. She now holds national titles in surfing.
As a child, in our church in Charleston, it was engraved on my mind, emotions and spirit, standing to sing, There’s room at the cross for you…Though millions have come, there is still room for one. There is room at the cross for you.
Now, I live in the world of disabilities. Perhaps, I understand more than most the vast difference the crucifixion of Christ can make in a life. As area director for Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community, I’ve seen the powerful effects of the cross in people’s lives.
Surrendering my life to the God “who would rather die that live without me” is a life-changing event. It doesn’t mean that a surfing prodigy won’t ever be faced with the dangers of the ocean. It doesn’t always mean that arms will grow back that have been knawled by a shark. Within the mentally challenged community, it doesn’t mean that Julie will ever learn to read. It doesn’t mean that MaryAnn will ever be able to say, “Mama.”
It does mean that God will use the sacrifice of Christ to forgive our selfishness and transform our lives. Additionally, because of the resurrection, we can become a champion surfer who has one arm and who inspires people across the globe to never say, “I can’t.” We can become new in him, loving the unlovely. We will be given the strength to walk one more step when we are aching tired from caring for a child with a disability. Because of Jesus’ great sacrificial giving, we can become new creations, children of God.
What mounting challenge are you facing today? How has the sacrifice of Christ made a difference in your life? What motivates you when everything in you screams, “I can’t”?