"I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and used to surf as a teenager. Sitting on a surfboard in the water, you must wait. You must be attentive, watchful, ready. When a swell comes along, you must apply your energy, paddling quickly with the wave. If you don't put in any effort, the wave passes you by and you go nowhere. But if you do point yourself in the right direction and paddle, and if it is the right moment, then the power of the wave — much stronger than your own weak paddling — matches your effort, picks you up, and carries you forward.

"This is how our willingness can be utilized by the Spirit to affect real change. We cannot make ourselves holy, any more than surfers on a calm ocean can paddle themselves frenetically forward into a glorious ride. But we must be willing and attentive, or nothing will ever happen. With awareness, we wear down our resistance, our obstacles, our compromises. We attend to our desire for change, waiting watchfully, hopefully. Then when the healing waters are stirred by the Spirit, we must do whatever it takes to get ourselves into the water. When the wave begins to move us upward and forward, we must aim in the right direction and paddle.

"The moment for decisiveness and conviction does come. Having waited attentively with a willing heart, at some point we reach a moment of clarity. In this moment, we know, without a doubt, that there is only one way forward that leads to life. If we step back from this moment, we become like the rich young man, skulking away sorrowfully, for we have knowingly denied an important chance offered by God (at least until it is offered again). But if we put our hand to the plow and don't look back, risking it all for the opportunity to be spiritually transformed, our decisive action is joined with God's intention for us.

"There is a place for decisiveness. At times, we must catch the wave, without hesitation. This moment of action does not come every day, and we can't force it willfully. But we can prepare for it, so that finally, when the heavy obstacles of our resistance have been worn thin, we become light enough for our determination to be raised up and carried forward by the divine movement of grace."