KEY SCRIPTURE Various biblical incidents
RELEVANCE On January 1 1967, a well-known surfer, Phil Edwards, published a book with a really long title, You Should Have Been Here an Hour Ago: The Stoked Side of Surfing or How to Hang Ten Through Life and Stay Happy.
When I was much younger and surfing regularly, a few of us were early birds—the Dawn Patrol. We were the 6.00 am crew who, despite the weather, would paddle out, often just on dawn, to quietly get the glassiest waves without waking other car-sleepers. It wasn't always a sure thing, but it was usually worth the lack of extra sleep.
Why was it so good? Around 8.00-8.30 am, the wind would 'get up' and create enough thermal current turbulence to take the edge off, making the surf messier. Depending on the tides and swell, you could get good or even better surf later. However, the early bird always caught the glass.
Late-sleeping friends and other surfers arriving as we were peeling off our wetsuits and drying would ask the most crucial question of the day.
"What's it like?"
Our response was consistent: "You should have been here an hour ago!"
I recently saw Phil's book online, which reminded me of those special times, but also of those horrifying biblical incidents which echoed a similar phrase.
When God asked Adam that confronting question, "Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" (Genesis 3:11), Maybe Adam thought, "Lord, if only you had turned up earlier we wouldn't be in this mess."
Or if the ill-fated crowds who drowned while Noah's and his family remained safe in the Ark had only listened to Noah earlier. I see Noah leaning over the ship's railing, yelling as the clouds spat down the early sprinkling of that unexpected but unforgettable explosion of water, "I've been telling you for one hundred years to get ready. This door is now closed, sealed shut. Maybe I could have squeezed some of you in, but you should have been here a week ago for that!"
And, of course, some won't be ready for Christ upon His sudden return. As the shock sets in and their eyes pump out their entire reservoir of tears, with their mouths wailing cries of anguish never witnessed before, their minds will be screaming the silent words, "Why didn't I listen? I should have made Jesus my Saviour earlier. People have been telling me for years."
When the 8.00 am surf crew arrived, we always wondered why they left it so late. Then the sense of satisfaction came home to rest. Not through the smugness of being early but knowing our decision to deny ourselves made all the difference.
Deciding to be early always brought rewards that latecomers only yearned for but could never experience.
Even now, Jesus calls all listeners to His cross. He asks us to make the right decision early because things happen instantly, denying us the opportunity to sneak in the door once it is closed.
God had a gatekeeper in Eden, so Adam and Eve couldn't return. The shock of it all must have been surreal.
With Noah's Ark, God himself closed the colossal timber and pitch door, and when God closes doors, nobody re-opens them.
Christ's return will be instantaneous, catching all latecomers by surprise. Many will remain sleeping through their decision-making time. By then It will be too late. They will have missed out. They will have ignored His word, which tells us to decide early to follow Him. It will be far better to be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ than hear the words, "The door is closed, you should have been here an hour ago!"
PRAYER Dear Lord, thanks for helping me rise early in those days to experience the sweet crispness of the dawning surf. I had no idea that early denial of sleep had so many critical biblical connotations.
Photo by Bernard Hermant