Having been a “water dog” as a teenager and having gone through lifeguard training (many moons ago), I understand what treading water is. When you tried water, you basically expend a lot of energy without going anywhere. Sure, treading water keeps you from drowning, so long as you are able to keep it up until you are rescued. Tread water long enough, and you will have to take some time to rest. The “dead man’s float” is the way to rest. Take a deep breath, and just lay face down in the water like a dead man, moving your neck to one side or the other to raise your face out of the water long enough to take another breath, then return to the “dead man’s float” position. You can last a lot longer in the water that way.
Neither treading water, nor the “dead man’s float” will get you anywhere, but will keep you alive when you are in danger of drowning. Again, these are temporary measures. Without rescue, you will die in the water.
“Neither treading water, nor the ‘dead man’s float’ will get you anywhere.”
So, what about when you feel like you are simply treading water or “dead man floating” spiritually? Here are five ways to move past this (hopefully) temporary means of existence.
1. Remember that troubles are promised.
Troubles are promised by Jesus to be what happens to those who will follow Him. John 16:33“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Despite what the health and wealth charlatans want to preach today, Jesus does not promise that everything will always go your way. What He does promise is to be with us every step of the way. And, in light of eternity, we need to remember that the troubles in life are temporary. They will pass. Not easy to remember in the midst of treading water, but we do need to remember that troubles are temporary, so long as we move towards a solution. The solution is to draw close to God every single day, and trust that He will get us through whatever we are going through.
2. Stay in the Word.
There is no way to emphasize this enough. The Bible is how God communicates with us. If we are seeking God’s will for our lives, that will is found in the pages of Scriptures. I am not talking about a specific, this is what I must do with my life thing, I am talking about the general will of God: He wants us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. But, as we are treading water, wondering what we should do, reading from God’s Word on a daily basis could and will point us in the right direction to start swimming.
Psalm 119:105 reminds us that “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
Okay, so maybe that doesn’t fit with the whole treading water word picture, but I think you get the point. If you want God’s guidance, listen to Him through daily reading of His Word.
3. Praise God on a daily basis.
Personal circumstances and cultural circumstances try desperately to define us. We cannot allow that to happen. God defines who we are and Whose we are. As a child of God, I want to make sure that I am praising Him daily with my lips and with my life. Psalm 146:1-3 says:
1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.
O God, You are my God. And I will ever praise You. Let this resonate in your life every single day. You would be amazed at how far you can “swim” when you are praising God, and when you are praising God, you are heading in the proper direction.
4. Keep an “Elisha” around you.
Remember the story in 2 Kings 6, when the Aramean army had surrounded Elisha and his servant with intent to do them harm? The servant wakes up, sees that they are surrounded and starts to fret. in verse 17, we read: And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Peggy serves as my Elisha. When I am floundering around spiritually, She reminds me to open my eyes to what God has in store. To open my eyes to the fact that God is with me. To remember Whose I am. When I start treading water, she starts cheering me in the direction God has in mind for us. Ask yourself, “who is my Elisha?” Then go talk with them for some eye-opening direction.
5. Keep your eyes fixed on the Prize.
Again, remember that current circumstances are temporary. This life is not the be-all, end-all. Our goal is to spend eternity in the presence of Jesus our Lord, and God our Heavenly Father.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
Philippians 3:14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
2 Timothy 4:8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
If you feel like you are treading wateror doing the “ dead man’s float” spiritually, start working on these five suggestions, so you can get moving in the direction God has in mind for you to head. The swim may not be easy, but treading water is exhausting, and it gets you no where!