May 2018           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


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Catch A Wave

Back in 1963, the Beach Boys recorded “Catch a Wave.” And, sure enough, there was surfin’ USA and a surfin’ safari, and a lot of “good vibrations” with a little “be true to your school” thrown in with songs of teenage girls wanting to have “fun, fun, fun” till their daddies took their T-Birds away.

I was a high school sophomore in the San Francisco Bay area. And, man, did I want to learn how to surf. I wanted to catch the big wave, shoot the curl, hot-dog name it. But, of course, I kept falling off the board, half-drowning in my attempts to ride the big ones as they came in. My buddy, Glenn, told me very simply, “Quit looking for the big one, Jerry. Just catch a wave.”

To me, however, catching “a” wave wasn’t as exciting as waiting for the “big one.” Although I soon noticed that when everyone squared off for a big one, there was a lot of jockeying for position, people rolling over and into one another, boards spiraling high into the air and people getting hurt because of the competition to catch “the wave,” to be number one, the numero uno hot-dogger, if you please. “Help me, Rhonda” was as much a plea from an injured surfer at that beach as it was a Beach Boys’ hit of ‘65.

Twenty minutes away in Golden Gate Park, another big wave was being touted: “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. For in the streets of San Francisco -- you’re gonna find some gentle people there...” Now here was a whole, new generation -- “people in motion” -- the “wave”, so it was touted, of the youth. And many thousands of young people converged on the “spiritual capital” of the Love Generation -- Haight-Ashbury. A “love” community by the sea. Population: subject to change. Elevation: out of sight!

And the appeal of this new, big wave spread around the country. As the Youngbloods sang it: “Come on people on your brother! Everybody get together, try to love one another, right now.” But this wave had an insidious undercurrent of drugs and sex which wrecked many of the lives of those who tried to ride it. It’s all history now. Haight came to be written as “hate.” Love was abbreviated to “luv,” and then even that disappeared.

What is the attraction for catching the big wave? Why doesn’t simply catching “A” wave, appeal to some of us? Perhaps surfing the big ocean waves and those riding the wave of the sixties’ hippie movement don’t relate to each other, but maybe they speak of our human desire for superlatives -- to be the one and only, the truest, the best, the group of people that surpass all others, the ones who are truly loving (either hippie, song writers, sport jocks or even church-goers).

I grew up thinking that big was better, watching the pencil marks on the back of the kitchen door record inch-by-inch my growth upward, yearning for three feet, six inches so I would be “big” enough to ride the amusement rides alone. Visits to grandma and grandpa made me feel so important: “My, my, how you’ve grown so ‘big’!” Bigger was better. Right?

So I wanted to catch the big wave. Who wouldn’t? Yet, I am reminded of my friend Glenn’s words to me: “Quit looking for the big one, Jerry. Just catch a wave.”

There are so many waves coming by, just like opportunities offered but sometimes not taken. Yet now and then you see someone who rides each small wave as it comes in. And Lenny Cacchio is that type of surfer. Give me one person, he says, and we have a congregation today.

If anyone’s looking to ride a wave, be careful that you’re not looking only for a big one. Been my mistake most my life, always looking for the big one. And now I see a small wave forming and a Jan Oehlamn riding it in, and a Mary Martin hanging ten, and a Janet Treadway reaching for teens, and a Rich Schultz riding a simple two foot curl to help an inmate friend. 

(Those persons to which the author refers are members of the Christian Educational Ministry Forum at the CEM web site.--Editor)

“Just catch a wave,” Glenn said. There are plenty going by. Just catch one. 

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