Swimming Against the Tide
by Joanne Ellison
03.08.21
03.08.21

I remember as a young child being pulled by the undertow at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, South Carolina. I had lived there all of my life and had been warned about not going out too deep, particularly in certain areas. My mother did not know how to swim so she would anxiously watch her three daughters as we ventured out to play in the ocean. We were told to stay near the edge, but I was the third child and sometimes flew under the radar. I also was a bit of a free spirit, and did not like the restrictions placed on me. When my mother settled in to relax in her beach chair feeling secure that we were where we needed to be, I ventured out deeper. I can still hear my sister saying to me (which she often did) “you are going to get in trouble”. I heard that so many times that I turned a deaf ear. I did not get too far before I became frightened. I could not stand straight up in the water and was waist deep, I was struggling to stay upright. It did not take me long to hear my mother’s agitated voice to come in closer to shore.

As I reflect on this experience this morning, I recognize a few things. First of all, my mother was being protective because she knew the dangers of the tide. She also knew that if I needed help, she did not know how to swim and subsequently knew that she could not help me. I also recognize that my rebellion, not listening to her or the voice of my sister, could have resulted in loss of my life. But what is most obvious to me, is that I had made a decision to try and swim against the tide thinking I was strong enough.

The expression swimming against the tide is widely known as someone who does not care about what everyone else is doing, but is determined not to follow the crowd; a willingness to go against what the culture may dictate or not worrying about what others may think. On the one hand, this can be a good thing. It is good when the Holy Spirit is leading you. It is not good or safe or advisable however when we strike out in rebellion to do our own thing.

The gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to believers to both go against the tide of the world pulling us towards potential destruction, but also to lead us to something better. When we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can venture out into deep waters and not fear. Isaiah described being in God’s place of refuge this way.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

Jesus did not say that we would never have troubles or be in dangerous situations. He did say however that He would be ever-present with us in our trials.  He sent His Holy Spirit, to come alongside us to lead, guide, direct, and comfort us in the middle of the tides of life that threaten to pull us under deep dark waters.

We all go through seasons that threaten our well being. We all find ourselves at times feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. Yet in surrendering to the One who comforts and leads us, we get through them finding resurrection life on the other side of the undertow.

What season are you in today? Are you able to see the Lord in all circumstances? Perhaps you need a friend to help you get back to shore. Maybe you need to listen to the warning of the Holy Spirit’s voice and not disregard His voice as I did my mother’s warning. Whatever circumstances you find yourself, remember that in Christ the waves and fiery darts may try to overwhelm you, but in Him there is safety from the threat of being pulled under.

And surely I am with you always even to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

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