what i learned from Soul Surfer

It seems like everyone on twitter and fb were commenting on how much they loved the movie Soul Surfer, a story of Bethany Hamilton, a teen surfer, who lost an arm to a shark.  I vaguely remember hearing and seeing this story in the media.  So when I got a free Redbox coupon code, I decided to watch the movie and be the judge for myself.  The movie was definitely an inspiring, amazing story of a courageous teenager who overcame many odds to become a pro surfer.  As usual, after the movie, I went to “special features” to see what other things I could watch.  I’m a documentary junkie, so “Heart of a Soul Surfer Documentary” caught my eyes, and I started watching it.  For me, this was the real story, a lot more inspiring and amazing than the hollywood movie.  These 30 minutes was more impressive than the 2 hour movie!

I had heard that she was a Christian, but the documentary tells of her testimony and how she experienced God in her life.  Bethany had given her life to Jesus at the tender age of five, and she always believed that God had a special plan for her life.  Bethany sounds like an amazing, kind-hearted kid… your basic good person… and I’m sure part of that is just her innate nature.  However, her faith in God definitely has played a big part in who she is.  In the documentary, she talks about how she really wanted to be used by God in her life at the age of 13!!!!  THIRTEEN!!!  Along with her parents, she was praying for God’s will in her life at the age of THIRTEEN!!!  That’s only a year or two out of elementary school!!!  What everyone would consider to be the biggest tragedy to her became her biggest blessing.  Of course, I don’t have to tell the story… but what I’m left with is her firm foundation and trust in the Lord at such young age.  The perspective she had as a thirteen year old is staggering to me!!!  And despite all of her difficulties, she decided to rise above and use it to bring God glory and share her faith with others. Man, I’m almost twice her age, and I have hard time with this!

So what’s my BIG LESSON from this girl???  Just how important it is to instill the love of Christ from very young age… and to teach kids that God never leaves them, but that He cares for them, and has a beautiful plan for each one of them regardless of adversities in life!  Bethany really believed in this truth, and clung to Jesus who loves her no matter what.  Her courage and hope came from being a precious child of God.  Imagine how her life had been different if she didn’t know Jesus.  She may still have been a successful pro-surfer because she has an amazing will, but she would not have used her situation to share her faith and Jesus with many that she has touched and come in contact with.

The documentary repeatedly speaks of God’s purpose and plan for her life (Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28, btw, my 2 favorite verses in the Bible)… and my favorite quote by Bethany is: “I know that if I didn’t have one arm, I wouldn’t be sharing God’s word with everyone, and God put me on this earth to serve Him… and having one arm is how He uses me.”  Seriously, this is what we need to be teaching kids and youth in the church and in our homes.  Not just Bible stories and memory verses (yes, they are important)… but we need to make God REAL and PERSONAL in the lives of kids!!!

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