If you ask any North Florida surfer where the best surf spots in Jacksonville are, the Mayport Poles will undoubtedly be somewhere at the top of the list. You might hear talk of the Jax Beach Pier, North Jetty, or maybe a recent sandbar that’s firing, but you won’t get out of the discourse without the Poles being mentioned…and not only mentioned but held in the highest esteem. Especially when there’s a Nor’easter brewing, that’s when you better get out to Poles boy. These venerated wooden pilings—so secretly envied by every average sandbar in town—they are the ones that recently brought to my mind the most venerated of all poles, the wooden cross that stood on Calvary Hill.
The Poles are a dividing line between Hannah Park and Naval Station Mayport. They span a distance that stretches from the sand dunes to the ocean’s edge, and even continue out into the water for about 20 or 30 yards. Whenever a structure juts out into the ocean, like a pier, jetties, or anything of the sort, the waves break much better for surfers. A lot of times you’ll find these spots packed with dozens of surfers while just a mile down the road there lies an empty beach break. They’re just that much better, no question.
“I was greeted by some of summertime’s finest—chest high mounds as clean as a whistle. A good day to not have a tight schedule.”
With swells from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Chris marching toward our beaches all week long, I took advantage of an unscheduled Friday morning to go play. The Poles, they were calling my name, or…was it Zak from church?? Someone was calling my name, whoever it was, and I heeded the beckoning. Turns out Zak’s dawn session ended by the time I got there. I’ll catch’m next time.
There wasn’t a huge crowd yet, so I headed right out at one of the main peaks, which was just to the immediate right of the actual set of poles. Directly to the left, there was another amazing peak. Typical for there.
As my paddle-out concluded, I was greeted by some of summertime’s finest—chest high mounds as clean as a whistle. A good day to not have a tight schedule. Thank you, Chris.
After an hour of dropping in to ramp after watery ramp (trust me, it wasn’t without rampant wipeouts), I found myself 150 yards down the beach. A slight drift was gliding through and the idea of resisting it didn’t appeal. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but the waves had gotten progressively misshapen, and a tad weaker as my migration had taken place. It was such a gradual phenomenon that it didn’t occur to me…not until I looked down toward the poles and remembered those first sets of waves, those blue A-framed bodies of indulgence that careened through. Gotta stay near the poles, I thought.
Then something hit me. I realized, that as a Christian, I need to stay near the pole, the pole of Christ, the redemptive cross. Everything that the Bible promises, the abundant life, the overcoming, the peace and all the fruit…it comes when we stay right by the side of the cross, when we draw near to Jesus. When we park ourselves at His feet, when we don’t lose our spot next to him, we’ll assuredly ride the best waves of our lives. We’ll feel ourselves being carried along by the powerful Holy Spirit, flowing with Him in the most profound ways.
“Jesus’ pole—the great lumber of our salvation—is the spot where Jesus knew His followers would catch the pure waves of abundant life.”
There are times when we don’t realize that we’ve gradually drifted down the beach, so to speak. We get out of alignment with God’s best. And it’s an easy thing to do. We don’t recognize it because we’re still surfing, or doing our Christian thing, but the waves are best right at the foot of the pole. It’s just a matter of refocusing sometimes, or realigning our priorities perhaps. One thing leads to another, and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that God’s intimate presence is the key to reign in this life as a Royal Priest should, as a MoreThanConquerer ought to.
All up and down the beach there are surfable waves, no doubt. But when you get right next to the Poles, things just light up, and an elevated experience ensues. The cross is no different. Staying close by Him is the key to our peace, our joy, and our victory on a day to day basis. Jesus’ pole—the great lumber of our salvation—is the spot where Jesus knew His followers would catch the pure waves of abundant life. The Pole…that’s the spot. Yes. Be sure to tell ‘em that’s the best spot.