My Faith Journey

My Faith Journey

By: Chris Buckel

When I was 18 or 19 years old, my best friend and I decided it would be a good idea to skip our astronomy class and go surfing instead. I was a good kid, but it wasn't my favorite class and there was supposed to be a big swell coming in. We drove down to La Jolla Shores to take a look and sure enough, it was here.

Unfortunately the weather had soured and it started to rain and the wind made things all choppy and jumbled. We figured we better get in there before conditions got worse. The waves were getting bigger by the minute and it was getting kind of scary... At this point, I was way out, looking for a halfway decent wave just to ride back to shore. But the beach kept getting meaner and meaner, somewhere in the 6 to 8 foot range.

I look back over my shoulder and here comes a BIG ONE! If you have ever surfed big waves then you know you either need to paddle towards the wave to try and get under it before it breaks, or paddle away to just get pummeled in the whitewash. It's always a judgment call but if you choose wrong it breaks on your head and that is the worst thing that could happen.

I decided, I can make it!
I turn towards the monster and paddle as hard as I can towards it. I'm almost at the end of the pier at this point and the wave keeps getting bigger and taller. I'm thinking, I'm not going to make it!


And this is when I say out loud “Jesus, don't let me die!”
Isn't there a saying?.. Some people don't think they believe in God until they’re about to meet him? A near death experience or something of that nature? My parents never took me to church. I was a really good kid with good morals, but I would only be found in church for weddings or funerals. But why is it, when I needed it most, I asked for Jesus’ help?

I think you just know.
Down deep.
When it matters most.
Who is there for you? Always.

This 12 foot wave is about to SMASH me so I just ditch my board, take a huge breath, and swim straight down to try and get under this Beast...

It sucks my board, and then me, right up and over the falls... I tumble and tumble in circles over and over again and I feel like a ragdoll in a washing machine. It's so dark and stormy above me, I can't see any light to know which way is up or down. I'm just trying to swim and not panic before I run out of breath.

I pray.
The kid who never went to church was praying.

Obviously, my prayers were answered.
Right before I black out, I feel the ground under my feet. I push up and take a HUGE gasp and then begin to make my way back to shore with my tail between my legs.

I didn't have to be taken to church to know there was something bigger than us. Bigger than me.
This is where my faith journey began. But I really can't wait to see where it takes me.

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