Growing up my family’s favorite phrase was, “Just go with the flow.” If you’ve ever seen the movie Finding Nemo, I can confirm that a sea turtle is not my spirit animal. In Finding Nemo, you saw Crush the sea turtle just riding the current wherever it took him with no less than ten baby sea turtles bouncing on the back of his shell. He had not a care in the world ‘just going with the flow.’
No, I am not Crush. If anything, I’m Marlin, the stressed-out clownfish who can’t get all of his eggs in a basket, and once he finally does, he loses the whole basket. I get stressed. I get frustrated. I get worried. I get scared to heck. I even cry for no reason.
I want to go with the flow, but I despise change, or not having a plan, or absolutely anything that throws a wrench in how I thought things were going to be. Then without failure my dad says it, “Just go with the flow.” And without failure I remind him that there is no flow, and I am drowning.
But here’s the thing. Even in roaring rapids, there is always a flow. It just may not be the direction you thought the river was going, and it may be a tide pool that spins you round and round in circles, but there’s a flow. So when God’s flow isn’t my flow, I have to buckle into my kayak. When things start to get rough, I say, “Alright God. I’m in for the ride.”
It isn’t easy. I can tell you that without failure whenever God says, “Alright it’s time to change directions.” It is at the least convenient time possible, and I begin to think:
- “God, I literally just got a handle on things.”
- “God, I’m already drowning here.”
- “God, what now??”
But it’s about your perspective. I’m trying to grow into putting God’s plans over mine, and that can be super hard when I’m trucking along with my plans doing my own thing and not paying attention to God. So I say, “Hey God, I thought we were going this direction??” And He replies, “Who is this ‘we’ you speak of Michaela? You were going in that direction, not me!”
So how do you keep going with the flow when it feels like the boat is about to tip over? First you put your life jacket on (metaphorically that is). Before you even get in a boat, and even more so get on the water, you have to put your life jacket on. The same thing is true when it comes to going with God’s flow. What I’ve found helps me the most is that before I even come to a point where it feels like I’m drowning and this flow is just way too much for me, I have my daily “life jacket” that I’m using. This “life jacket” is any habit that you do that keeps you close to God. This can be reading your Bible, a devotional plan you read, or a specific worship playlist that you listen to everyday. Then when the waters get uneasy, you already have that “life jacket.”
For me with my broken ankle, my “life jacket” right now is a devotional on healing. I read it every morning and every night so that when anything comes up that makes me anxious, or depressed, or fearful I’m already focusing on God’s truth instead of trying to play catch up.
Another thing that’s really important to do to keep ‘going with the flow’ is to know what boat you’re getting into. When you’re in a rough patch, don’t surround yourself with negativity. This would be like getting into a canoe that has a massive hole in the bottom of it and expecting to have an easy trip. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
I can easily go down the rabbit hole of every little thing that can go wrong with my foot:
- What if it hurts forever?
- What if they can’t figure out what’s wrong?
- What if they can’t fix my foot?
- What if I can never walk again?
- What if they have to cut my foot off??
- What if they have to cut my leg off???
- What if they have to cut my head off????
Okay that last one is totally out of proportion. But see how easily one negative thought leads to another? Whereas if you stay rooted in God’s promises that
- He will take care of you (Psalm 23),
- He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:8), and
- He will work all things together for His good (Romans 8:28)
then you stop the spiral before it even begins.
One last thing that’s important to do when you feel like you’re about to drown is know who’s in the boat with you. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” It doesn’t get much more plain than that. God is in the boat with you, and He isn’t going to let the roaring rapids of life overcome you.
So when life’s waters get a little rough, put on your life jacket, make sure you’re in a good boat, hold onto your boat buddy Jesus, and be like Crush the sea turtle, and ‘just go with the flow.’
— Written by Michaela
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The pictures are from left to right Michaela getting ready to play in the water and her and her dad playing in a calm river on a canoe.