How New Passions Can Be an Answer to Old Prayers

Photo by Luis Camacho on Unsplash

Below is the introduction from my latest book, a 30-day devotional entitled SUP: Spiritual Understanding and Prayer on a Stand Up Paddleboard.

While my passion for SUP may be something totally different from your own passion, I pray that, as you read this devotional book, you’ll be able to see God’s Word reflected in your own passions and pursuits. Don’t just listen to Him when you’re reading your Bible and praying, but also when you’re working and playing. He’s still speaking even then.

I began stand up paddling (SUP) in the early summer of 2014 at a time when I was questioning where my business and my career was headed.

I was feeling a little burned out on my work as an image consultant in the music industry, but was afraid to let go of the business I had spent nearly seven years building.

I was constantly trying to figure out what God wanted me to do next.

I wasn’t getting an answer right away like I had hoped, so I just kept praying and kept plugging along in my business while also taking some classes on things that interested me and learning some new hobbies like SUP.

Out of all the new things I was trying recreationally, SUP was my favorite and soon became a passion.

Unlike my regular morning prayer and devotion time, paddling provided a quiet place away from my day-to-day environment to really hear from God. The quiet out on the water and away from everything else was just what I needed.

While I didn’t get an immediate answer to my prayers regarding my career, I was reminded of God’s Word in the Bible each time I was out on the water.

SUP: Spiritual Understanding & Prayer

As soon as I recognized the parallels between God’s Word and what I was learning as a beginning paddler, I felt an urge to write them down. So, I started a blog called “SUP: Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP.”

The blog wasn’t something I heavily promoted. I shared it only with a few friends and trusted God that it would reach whomever He wanted it to reach.

One of those friends I shared my blog with was another woman my age I had met that summer. She had started paddling around the same time I did.

Some days we would paddle together and talk about our walk with God. It turned out she was having some similar struggles regarding her own career.

We promised to stay in prayer for each other.

That first year I paddled every month of the year, even in the dead of the Tennessee winter. The days when there were reasonable temperatures and sunny skies in January and February were rare, but I took advantage and got out on my board when I could. Doing so gave me more to write about in my blog.

Still No Answer

When summer 2015 rolled around, I was still feeling restless in my career and I was having the worst year of my business I’d had since I first started it after leaving my previous job as a career adviser.

I know what you’re thinking.

“How could someone who used to be a career adviser not know what they want to be when they grow up?”

Well, I did know, and I pursued it, and now I didn’t know what was next.

But I kept praying and kept trusting that God would reveal His purpose for me in this season of my life when the time was right.

I had become so passionate about stand up paddling that I was trying to figure out how I could possibly do some type of work involving SUP. Something besides opening my own shop.

I spent the summer of 2015 kicking around the idea of doing some kind of group or corporate training using SUP. After all, I did have past experience of teaching and training, and teaching is one of my spiritual gifts. Also at that point I already had experience teaching the SUP 101 class at my local shop.

But my idea never seemed to formulate into a deliverable. That is, not until the week of my birthday.

Learning to Listen to the Holy Spirit

On December 15, 2015, I went to my local SUP shop where I had previously bought my first board shortly after learning to paddle. The plan was to trade my current 12’6” race board in for a 14’ race board.

It was an unusually warm December day in the 70s so I was able to get out on the water and test drive some 14-footers. But, I just did not have a good feeling in my gut about the board I thought I wanted.

I knew the new board would cost more than my current board, and there was no guarantee the shop owner would be able to sell my current board to help pay for the new board, but that wasn’t what was making me hesitate.

The problem was, every time I got on the 14’ board, it didn’t sit well with my soul. It also didn’t seem to fit me physically. I was too light for a board that size, and I didn’t feel as comfortable on it as I did on the board that had served me so well for the past year and a half.

I decided to listen to my gut and not make any decisions yet.

I left there a little disappointed, but knew I needed to spend some time praying about it. After all, I had prayed about the first board, and it turned out to be a wise purchase.

Since it was my birthday and I was driving by a Cracker Barrel restaurant on my way home, I decided to stop in for some of my favorite cake, their Coca-Cola cake, as a treat to myself for turning 42.

As I was waiting for my cake, I prayed about the unsettling feeling I was having about the new board. Then, I checked my email on my phone and happened to see a promotional message from the SUP shop for a sale on inflatable boards.

I almost deleted the email because I was not interested in an inflatable board, or so I thought. Instead, I decided to open the email and began reading.

As I read, I realized that an inflatable board made much more sense than a new race board because, at the sale price, I could keep my current board and therefore have two boards.

Not only that, when an inflatable is deflated, it can be rolled up and thrown in the trunk of my car, making for easy transportation.

Since I had to replace my car earlier that year, I no longer had a vehicle with a rack on it and would have had to spend extra money on a car rack in order to transport a new race board. An inflatable board would affordably solve that problem and would make traveling with it easier!

The best reason, however, for an inflatable board is, since they are great for beginners, I can take friends out on it! Having two boards would allow me to share my passion with my friends, teach them how to paddle, and even tell them more about my blog to spread God’s Word.

I immediately called the SUP owner and said,

“Nix the 14-footer. I want the inflatable you have for sale!”

My gut, which is really the Holy Spirit, told me that was the way to go.

There were no feelings of hesitation on that decision at all.

God Doesn’t Waste Anything

Two days after my birthday and after I ordered the inflatable SUP, I finally got an answer to my year and a half long prayer about my career.

God made it so clear that I had a vision of the answer as if it appeared in a flashing neon sign.

The answer was PASSION.

I suddenly realized I am to use my past experience as a career adviser and my thirst for developing new passions of my own to help others find ways to incorporate their passions into their own careers and lives.

I would be using my number one spiritual gift of encouragement, along with my other spiritual gift of teaching, to show people how to use job search skills and lifelong learning as a launching pad to a life and career that uses their gifts and passions, resulting in purpose and joy.

Just to show how God doesn’t waste anything, all the skills I had developed running my own image consulting company would be used in running my own career coaching practice.

The career coaching skills weren’t going to waste either. God showed me how to repackage them in a more meaningful way by incorporating a focus on passion.

In fact, I even got to keep the same name for my career coaching practice as I had for my image consulting business. It still fit perfectly even though my mission had changed.

And the best part is I’m now even incorporating stand up paddling in my work with my career coaching clients.

SUP not only has spiritual parallels but also parallels to approaches to life and work. I’ve been able to take clients out on my inflatable board and not only show them those parallels, but also provide them a different environment to think about their current situation, resulting in a different perspective.

One client commented on how rejuvenating the experience was for her mind, not just her body.

Another client said the experience brought her back to basics and back to a time when she used to be on the crew team in college. It was a reminder to her of what she had always had a desire to pursue professionally and now had the confidence to do so.

God Spoke to Me Through My Passions

Although it took a year and a half before I got my answer to my prayer, I continued to seek understanding and remained patient. I kept praying, and God spoke to me through my passions.

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