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Eyes Up

Have you ever wake boarded?

I know it’s Kansas and as a landlocked state, with few lakes, it’s not really a common experience for people, but if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend it. There’s something about skimming along the top of water that’s exhilarating. That being said, wake boarding does not come without inherent risks. With both feet strapped in to a small board, there’s no catching yourself if you lose your balance, and make no mistake, water hurts. Believe me. I know.

This summer my dad bought a wake boat and I was incredibly excited for the opportunity to try it out. I was good enough at waterskiing that I could slalom ski (one ski) so in my mind I thought, “How hard could this be?” In truth, it’s very hard.

I watched a couple YouTube videos about how to stand up and figured, “I got this,” but I didn’t have it.

That first time, I sort of stood up, but my weight wasn’t on the back of my board, so the nose of the board started to sink, which turns out, is very bad. I was abruptly (and quite rudely) plunged into the water face first. My head snapped back in such a way that the force of the water pulled my eyelids up, making it impossible to close them. My spine was wrenched in a U-shape until the board caught the water like a parachute and rocketed me out of the attached boots. It hurt. A lot.

So I went back to the YouTube, to get a little more advice, and pay a lot more attention. And one of the videos said a phrase that stuck with me—the instructor said, “Eyes up, stay up; eyes down, fall down”. The premise was that if you’re looking up, you’re body position is more naturally inclined to have your weight back, and the nose of the board will remain up. Buy if you look down your weight will naturally want to push forward, and you’ll wreck, as I’d experienced.

With this new knowledge, the next evening, when we were on the lake, the wake tower’s light was on, so I made it my goal to only watch that light—I just kept my eyes fixated on that light. Pretty soon, I was up and riding the wake.

Now at some point, it occurred to me that this is kind of a picture of our spiritual lives, is it not? When we keep our eyes on Jesus who in John 8:12 said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” we stay up, but when we take our eyes off Jesus, we have a tendency to fall down. Often times, spectacularly.

And just like wake boarding, sometimes with Jesus there are unexpected waves and violent crashes—but if we’ll keep our eyes on him, it will make it way easier to get back up and ride that next time.