Congratulations to The SWELL. Earliest picture I could find from 2011. You have reached a milestone this weekend! It was 5yrs years ago when a handful of you surfers for the first time gathered together in excitement and awe as you joined with me in the conviction that a Holy God was calling us to something far bigger than ourselves. To love one another like Jesus loves us and to love our surfing community with that same love He continues to pour into us. Since then, that love has overflowed into countless weekly gatherings, breakfast events on the beach and encounters with surfers whom God purposely brings our way. We have also had the privilege to serve BBQ lunches to hundreds of local surfers at The SurfAbout surf contest these five years and hosted several surfer movie nights. With that recap, thank you for your love, your faithfulness, your heart for Jesus and your heart for your fellow surfers. I think you would agree that it has been an amazing adventure seeing God provide far beyond what we could have imagined. His provision and care speaks volumes to the great loving kindness he has for those we surf with. I love you guys. TO OUR SURFING COMMUNITY, thank you for allowing us to follow through with our convictions. Thank you for allowing us to love you. We totally believe God has something awesome for you and are excited for you. Thank you Sunshine Freestyle and On The Beach surf shops. You have been a blessing to us and are truly helping create community. We pray God will continue to bless your place of business and your families. Thank you also to other partners that have come along side us in our events. Now a more personal thanks if you don’t mind. Thank you Heavenly Father for your love and faithfulness to me and my family and my fellow SWELL members and their families. You, Your son Jesus and Your Holy Spirit have never left me. You have never broken a promise, nor gone against your own character. My trust is in You only. You are so awesome and I would surrender every wave just to know You more because you have become so very, very real to me through what you have done through The SWELL. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of The SWELL. I love you. ryan
Since June 2014, I’ve had an amazing privilege of sharing the below story with many surfers in my local surfing community of just how I obtained a 1978 VW Bus (pictured here). Now I would like to share it with you.
I must admit, I’ve enjoyed my fellow surfers reactions when they hear the story of the VW Bus, but i realize the seriousness of the matter because I believe upon hearing it some are faced with the real possibility of God ; that He exist , that He is good and He wants to extend His grace. Some have responded with blank looks like what I just told them did not register or it did and they don’t quite know what to do with it because I just rocked their world view. I have had responses like, “No way, that is epic!” or “Dude, I can’t believe it! Some register what I tell them but conclude that I have to have a humanistic response of “paying it forward”. That’s fine will do. My hope for them is that they understand that grace did not start with the human race. My favorite so far has been my friend Scotty whom I love seeing it the water. I believe he got it right when his response was “Ryan, that’s a miracle!” After reading this VW Bus story, you might agree, or you just might wish this page was blank. I’ve had offers to buy the bus from tourist and surfers to include Scotty, but my response has been the same, “I can’t sell something I don’t believe really belongs to me.” Why would I think such a thing? It’s not because of the joy filled smiles or waving hands I get when driving down the street. I can almost tell on their faces that seeing it brings back some fond memory for them especially if that person is over sixty. Well, I’m in my forties and my memory is being blanketed right now with a God feared awe feeling that I get knowing that this is not about me driving a cool classic car that is admired by surfers and 60 year old alike. I have come to realize it’s not about me at all. It’s about Him, His goodness, His grace, His glory and His chosen instrument the VW BUS to break through the crest of each surfer’s heart. The bus has become more of an instrument of God’s love than I could ever hope to be. I realize that If they hear the bus story and then see the bus parked at their surf spot or even just going on the roads of my life it just might become their source of joy and they might remember that God is real, that He is good and that He loves them and wants to extend that same amazing grace to them that I’ve experienced. In fact, the VW Bus was used as His instrument three times today alone. Once for transplanting to and from all of The SWELL breakfast on the beach supplies to Asilomar Beach and twice in conversations I had with surfers as we were feeding them pancakes. Now here is an expansion of what I shared today.
Last spring of 2014, my Toyota Camry of 240K miles finally died of a massive transmission attack. So that meant my family of five was down to one car until I got a replacement. The replacement was going to have to come from most of what little savings we could come up with given my terrible credit rating. Hopefully, this would be sooner than later since my wife and I worked miles apart in opposite directions. Over the years, I had dreamed of getting a VW Bus and would often stop on my way home from work to check out the ones at a classic car dealership, but given their price and my circumstances I was resolved to get something cheap, reliable and practical with one slight requirement. It had to have a hatchback door so I could throw my board in without dropping the back seats. I managed to find rides to work because well, the 12 mile bike rides to work didn’t last long. I began to see God’s faithfulness and provision as friends from church let me borrow their cars, once for four days and another for a two whole weeks while they were on vacation. This bought us time to save some money for the replacement, but wouldn’t you know it, our one working car had to get repairs and then we were back to square one in savings. This was a major bummer, but my family and I had seen God provide in the past through my multiple layoffs and long periods of unemployment so we just needed to pray and patiently wait on him like it says in Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Lamentations 3:22-24 says “Because of the Lord’s great Love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself. ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on him.’” This had become our approach to our circumstances and I definitely was in wait mode because normally I would have gone full charge ahead in finding a car and probably would have gotten a lemon. So, it was a Sunday, I’m borrowing my mother-in-laws car to get to the 11 o’clock service at our church in Carmel when something catches my eye. It was a VW Bus parked off one of the side streets with a for sale sign on it! I had to double back because my heart leaped out of my chest like the ole dream just got the double paddles. Zap! Moments later I was literally taking a cell phone picture of the for sale sign in the window of the bus when someone pulls up and says, “Hey Ryan, we heard you were looking for a car.” I turned around and it was a couple from my church coming home from the 9 o’clock service. It was their son’s car that they bought from another church member years earlier. Well their son wanted a truck instead so they put the For Sale sign on it that weekend but had not’ posted it online yet. Yes, I was a few minutes late for church but came back after and test drove the bus with my daughter who concluded that ‘It was not practical for our family.’ Unfortunately, she had been the first of many naysayers. Naysayers or not, Peter the owner and I both agreed at that first meeting to pray about what to do about the bus and through subsequent conversations he also found out about The SWELL surfing ministry I had been involved in for the last 3.5 years. I would see about finding the $7500 he was offering for the bus and he promised to let me know before he would post it online. He also would allow me to take it to a mechanic to get it checked out. First, things first, “Lord you know this is a dream of mine, but I need to know if this is right for my family.” With the prayers, I was also asking the advice of friends who also managed to poop on the idea. I heard, “Oh, you will be working on it every weekend.” Or “Oh, it’s gonna be a rust bucket!” Great, now onto getting the financing, I heard, “Sorry, Ryan you don’t qualify for the car loan. Not ever a personal loan!” A week goes by with the same news and Peter want’s an update. I tell him the truth. I can’t get the $7500. Amazingly he drops the price to $4500. Zap! Suddenly, the dream gets revived again. My mother-in-law graciously offers to come up with more than half that amount. Week two, I get the VW Bus checked out by one of the only two air cooled VW mechanics in the area and he say’s “This thing is in great shape!” I am beginning to believe that God’s hand is moving on my behalf but I mention to Peter that my family still is not on board with the idea. He offers to let me take them to lunch after church to give us a chance to ride in it and talk it over. My girls at lunch ask me “Daddy what are you going to do, are you going to get the bus or not?” I said girls, “It seems the world and all my friends are telling me not to, but I am choosing not to listen to the world or the naysayers, instead I have chosen to listen to God and all I sense is that I just need to wait on him and see what he has in store for me. As we know girls, we have seen God do amazing things for our family over the last couple years and I am confident that nothing is impossible for him.” I need to back up a bit because when my youngest found out it had wireless headphones and a DVD player in it…ahh she was on board…and been praying and asking for the bus since. So, when we arrived back from lunch, Peter’s wife asked “Well, Ryan what did you guys decide?” We were still not prepared to give an answer because we did not decide as a family over lunch. Then Peter said “Ryan, as you know we agreed to both pray about this.” I said yes, I have definitely been asking what I should do about the bus and I been waiting for an answer.” Peter then said “Well, we have our answer and God is definitely telling us that we are supposed to give you the bus. So we are giving it to you.”
Now I had the blank stare on my face, I was speechless and just looked over at my wife and we both just teared up bit then I looked at my girls and we all realized our family had just been the recipient of great kindness, a brother’s obedience and God’s amazing grace. God is so good.
Two weeks later Peter signs over the pink slip.
Another, verse comes to mind. Psalm 37:7 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Yeah, it was like that.
I could write a 1000 words from this picture alone..or over 1000 words for each of the days The SWELL has been around. But one word seems to be at the forefront of my mind because of its importance and who it is from. It is the word "Invitation". Do you remember your very first invitation to a birthday party or to some other celebration? Perhaps with the sender believing the celebration would not be the same without you. Do you remember what it meant to you that someone was thinking of you? They pictured you there at their table; at their special feast, their celebration. Perhaps this event was a completion of something needed and a beginning of something wonderful. Perhaps this event represents a bridge to a destination that is unimaginable. A special place prepared for your arrival. What if you were not expected to bring a gift, but that there was as a gift waiting for you? Better yet, what if the invitation was the gift for you and you were not expected to bring anything to the event except yourself? Would you open the invitation? Would you open the gift? Many invitations have been sent out over the last 4 years. I wonder, who's going to respond? What is the response? "God, I know this invite is from you.. but...I have some waves to catch first..then I will come to your little gathering.", "Return to sender..I have don't need an invite." , "Just not sure who this invite is from." Whatever the responses may have been I believe the "Invitation" still stands open. The question is who will “paddle into” ,”scratch for”, “commit”, “drop into" and “commit to” perhaps to the best ride they could have ever imagined. Who will have the courage and faith to receive, open and come to what is being prepared. -- RPM