Catching a Wave

I can barely swim, let alone surf, but summer weather had me thinking about ocean waves recently.  In late April, I went to see the movie Soul Surfer with two of my friends.  The message contained in the storyline truly inspired me— tugging at my heartstrings and encouraging me to make the most of every opportunity. 

For those of you who don’t know Bethany Hamilton’s story, I will fill you in briefly.  Bethany was a promising young surfer— a teenage girl with a passion for the waves and conquering each swell with anticipation.  She was in the process of preparing for a surfing competition one day when she stopped to float on her surfboard for a few moments in order to catch her breath.  It was then that tragedy struck; a shark latched on to her arm, resulting in amputation of that limb. 

Initially, Bethany struggles with feelings of doubt and uncertainty.  She wonders how this could possibly be God’s plan for her life.  She had wanted to be a professional surfer, and with only one arm, this dream now seemed out of reach.  But Bethany didn’t let these feelings take root inside of her.  Instead, she pressed forward, entering into first one competition and then the next.  She faced defeat and struggle, but she kept getting on her surfboard, seeking that next big wave.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it was in the final scenes of the movie that I found the most inspiration.  In searching for the right wave that would carry her up and over it in victory, Bethany exemplified the essence of her attitude for life.  No challenge or obstacle was too large for her; in fact, the bigger the wave the better in her case.  She didn’t settle for small victories but instead had her goal set on becoming a professional surfer.

This past week, I worked with fifteen incredible teenagers from around the state of Wisconsin.  Each of these students had a disability, but at YLF, disability is never a factor.  We spent our week together exploring leadership strategies and barriers to success in order that we might make the most of every opportunity to reach for our dreams.  This camp/ forum served as a launching pad for me as a teenager, and now today, I am assistant director of the entire program. 

In potentially directing the program in the future, I think about Bethany Hamilton’s story once more.  Could working with these students in future years be the next wave for me on the horizon?  What about my writing and music?  What does God have for me in each of these endeavors?  Can I be devoted to all three, or must I ride just one wave at a time?  Which opportunity has the greatest potential? 

I don’t have the answers, but I am praying that God will show me which wave He wants me to tackle next.  Until then, I will keep serving as I have been, devoting myself to my three passions: music, writing, and my YLF teens.  But what about you?  What wave will you set your sights upon?  Where might God be leading you?  Take that opportunity, catch that wave, and it will bring you to new heights.  


I strongly dislike lukewarm tea.  My favorite beverage either has to be steaming hot or ice cold.  If I pour myself a cup of tea and then forget about it, I am bound to encounter a tepid brew later on.  Yuck.


My dislike for lukewarm tea got me thinking about my relationship with Christ recently.  Just last week, I attended an outdoor music festival, and during the day, I heard many songs and the stories behind them.  The songwriting and artistry displayed at the festival was nothing short of inspiring and eye-opening.  At one point, one of my favorite artists shared that he often wrote songs that were honest— almost brutally honest.  His proclamation made me bold, so I ask the readers of “Cassie Contemplates…” today, can I be brutally honest with you?


I have a confession to make; I strongly dislike lukewarm faith.  I listened to another musician at the festival talk of her busy schedule and her lack of time spent just simply communicating with God.  She spoke of her tendency to view her music career as her service to Him, almost looking at others’ work as if it didn’t carry as much weight in the kingdom.  She wore herself out trying to work for the Lord while she wondered why others couldn’t serve with the same passion.


Often, I tend to hold to this artist’s mindset.  I faithfully serve within the church and through my music on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis, and when others don’t come alongside me or serve with the same passion, I tend to almost look down on them.  “I’m here serving,” I say to myself.  “Where are they?  What could be more important than serving Christ?”  As I go about my service to the Lord, I continue to encounter lukewarm Christians— those who seem to serve only when they feel like it or have time, those who are so close to having a saving relationship with Christ but haven’t quite made the leap to embrace eternal life, and those who think simply going to church will make them a Christian.


Well, recently I have come to realize that I am no better in my relationship with Christ.  Often, I am just as lukewarm in my faith, and I know that God is displeased with my lack of commitment.  In fact, Scripture tells us that God detests the lukewarm believer— a Christian who is neither hot nor cold in their passion for Him.  This Christian is passive and noncommittal— perhaps outwardly portraying their love for Christ but inwardly struggling in their spiritual walk.


I am not the best example when it comes to facilitating a thriving and growing relationship with my Savior.  Sadly, I am not the strongest prayer warrior, and like many, I have also struggled with making time during the day for personal devotions or quiet time with Him.  My busy schedule and commitments simply began to take over my life until I began to settle into a passive routine.  I would spend time in prayer or read the Scriptures, but I wasn’t drawn to passionately seek Him by any means.  Even my quiet time alone with Him at night became shorter and shorter as I succumbed to fatigue, finding sleep more important.


Just a few nights ago, everything came to a head, and I found myself praying with new conviction.  I expressed my frustrations regarding the lukewarm faith of some of my friends and acquaintances, and I prayed that God would work in their lives to bring them back to a deeper relationship with Him. But at that point, I was also convicted of my own spiritual condition, and I broke down into bitter tears.  Who was I to judge the hearts of others when I was just as guilty of tepid, watered-down faith?  This single question started me on a conversation with my Heavenly Father and best friend that lasted for several hours.  I realized how much I had missed my communication with Him, and I basked in the peace and security I found in our closeness.


This experience only served to prove that I am far from perfect.  I am fallible, human, sinful, and weak to the core.  Often, I am a bitter, lukewarm flavor in God’s mouth, and I shudder to think of how I must disappoint Him at times like this.  So it is my goal to step out from this point forward— not with passive faith and tepid commitment, but with renewed passion to serve Him with everything in my being.  Will I stumble and fall along the way?  Yes, without a doubt.  But I seek to make a concentrated effort, if only to spend some precious time with my Best Friend.

The Ultimate Promise‏

As I placed the title on my new release, The Promise, I thought about its deeper meaningPrimarily, the title refers to the ultimate promise— salvation in Christ and the assurance that He will be with us always as written in Matthew 28:20.  I have spent some time thinking about some of the precious promises in the Scriptures, and I can’t help but think of the rainbow and its promise in Genesis 9.  God places the rainbow in the sky to seal His covenant with the people that He will never again send a flood to destroy the earth and all living creatures.  His promise is a covenant, something that can never be revoked and will stand in place for eternity.

Within the context of my book, the theme of the promise takes on many different forms.  There is reference to expectation, commitment, guarantee, measure of hope, undeniable truth, and assurance.  The characters make promises to each other; some are kept and honored while others are thrown away.  But ultimately exists Christ’s promise of eternal life for anyone who welcomes Him in.

I decided to dig a little deeper into the idea of “the promise.”  What does it mean?  Well, defines “promise” as:


1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one: unkept political promises.

2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based: promises that an enemy will not win.

3. something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected.

4. indication of future excellence or achievement: a writer who shows promise.

5. something that is promised.

“Promise” has Middle English and Medieval Latin roots and is a word that carries a great deal of deeper meaning.  Too often, I think we trivialize the concept of “promise.”  When I was a child, I can often remember saying to one of my sisters: “I promise I won’t tell on you.”  Then two minutes later I would run to one of my parents and tattle on her.  In adulthood, I have committed to do something, only to forget I had made the agreement later.  I have also been on the receiving end of broken promises: altered agreements for work, projects fully completed on my part but not rewarded or compensated upon completion, or a person neglecting to offer help when they had earlier committed to do so.  Some people, businesses, and organizations do not maintain a high standard when it comes to fulfilling their word, and that saddens me.  I try not to hold these broken promises against such parties, but often it is hard to move on, forgive, and forget.

At times like these, I look to Christ’s promises and His unconditional forgiveness.  He has promised to never leave or forsake me, and He has blessed me with salvation in Him and a hope to face tomorrow.  In turn, I feel it is only fitting that I offer myself as a servant to others.  I am fallible and human, but I seek to do everything in my power to fulfill my word to those who come to me for assistance.  If I say I will do it, I will come through for you.  If I can’t fulfill your expectations, I will go out of my way to make amends to the best of my ability.  Often, I cannot make things right in my own strength, but I know God will be beside me all the way. 

He has promised to be with us no matter what, and if there is anything I can promise you without a doubt, it is this: He is the Promise Maker, Promise Keeper, and Promise Fulfiller.        

Character Monologues: Brent Hollister

Hello, reader friends!  My name is Brent Hollister, and I’m a freshman at Simpson University in Redding, California.  I grew up in Cloverdale and have always called it home.  I have two loving parents and an adorable seven-year-old sister.  Lydia is my little princess, and I can’t imagine life without her.  She has been sick since she was born, and it has been difficult to watch her battle through life with a weakened heart.  Lydia is a fighter though, and her love for God is mature beyond her years.

I love college, but I miss it at home so much!  Any time I can get a ride back to Cloverdale, I jump at the chance.  One weekend, early in first semester, I came home and surprised all of my friends.  That’s when I met J.C. for the first time.  I can’t explain what went through my mind and heart at that moment, but I felt this pull toward her that I couldn’t deny.  God spoke to my heart and impressed on me the importance of sharing the Gospel with her.

But considering we knew very little about each other, I knew I had to move forward carefully with her.  I quickly learned that J.C. feels uncomfortable around matters of faith.  She seems interested in attending activities at church and with the school Bible Study, but when I mention anything about God or having a personal relationship with Christ she seems to shut down.  She claims she doesn’t understand His ways or how she can believe in something that can’t be proved.  I have been praying constantly that I will be able to break down her walls and introduce her to the love of Christ.  She doesn’t know it yet, but she is desperately in need of a Savior, and I only pray I can be a part of this change in her life.

Well, I guess there’s not much more to say at the moment.  J.C. has a great deal of ground to cover in The Promise, and I can’t wait for you to read her story.  I don’t want to stand in the way of that, so I’m off to get a cup of coffee and catch up on some homework. 

In Christ,