Navigating the Ups and Downs and Ups of Life

Sometimes life is like a swim in the ocean when the undertow is strong and the waves are high and forceful. You get knocked down, dragged around, and barely have time to catch your breath before another wave crashes on top of you.

Thankfully, seasons also come when life is like a sea that is so calm waves are imperceptible and the water looks like a serene lake. I don’t know about you, but I could use more glassy seas.

Just as the ocean’s color and motion are ever-changing, so are our lives. The ups and downs, storms and calm come and go unpredictably. Here are some things to consider as you navigate the seas of life:

Never underestimate the undertow – As a child, I can remember being warned about the strength of unseen currents and then experiencing their sucking pull firsthand. Many times, I thought I could withstand their force only to find myself knocked down, scraping the ocean floor, and gasping for air. I experience similar currents in life.

One definition of “undertow” is an underlying force or tendency that is in opposition to what is apparent. You may appear put-together and in control, but those underlying forces—doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, criticism, regret, grief—are often at work, putting a vice grip on resolve, pulling the rug out from under your best intentions, and knocking the wind out of the sails of forward motion. Don’t be fooled into thinking those underlying forces aren’t capable of pulling you under. Remain vigilant.

Keep your eyes on the horizon – In today’s culture, it’s easy to get distracted by all that is vying for your attention. A few of these distractions include technology, busyness, negative voices, overloaded schedules, and other things you manufacture for yourself that steal time and aren’t really that important. It’s easy to get confused about priorities and lose sight of your main goals in the fog of what seems more important and urgent. But keep your eyes on the horizon. No matter where you are—in a sea of despair or on a mountaintop—keep looking ahead, with the bright strip of horizon in sight.

Always anticipate the ups – Perhaps you wondered about the title of today’s blog post. Why add the extra ups? The answer is simple. You should always anticipate the next up, especially when you’re down. Swimming against strong currents makes it seem like you aren’t getting anywhere. It’s easy to feel defeated and that additional exertion isn’t worth the effort, but your circumstances are just as changeable as the ocean waves. Issues that crash on you today, seem impossible, and leave you gasping, can melt into a sea of calm in days to come. So watch for the next up. Believe it is coming. Pray, trust, and expect abundant blessings ahead.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1: 5-6 NLT)


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