Surf or Swim?
Marybeth Whalen

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:6 (NIV)

It's easy to look around right now and get discouraged. The news is certainly grim, with little hope on the horizon. Something we used to take for granted—the state of our economy—has turned out to be a house built on shifting sand. We wonder: why did we ever trust in something that has turned out to be so fragile? As a nation, our confidence has been shaken.

But how about as individuals?

As we move through these uncertain times, it's normal to question many things. Some of us might be questioning God right now—wondering where He is in all of this and whether He cares enough to intervene? Our questions can lead us away from God, or they can turn us closer to Him as we seek His will. Instead of trusting in the almighty dollar, we can trust Him like never before.

I recently read a quote in Oswald Chambers's classic devotion, My Utmost For His Highest: "The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it." As I thought about this idea in light of the current economic distress, I realized that we all have a choice to make. We can choose to let the current overtake us and drag us down. Or we can choose to ride the crest of the wave and soar through these challenging times, allowing God to teach us valuable lessons and turn our focus to where it needs to be.

We can do this by taking steps we might have never taken before. Intentionally working to pay off debt, tithing to your local church, setting up a monthly budget, communicating about spending with your spouse, and doing away with credit cards are all good steps to begin taking. When we make these kinds of choices, we honor God with our money. And as we honor Him, our eyes are opened to His activity on our behalf and we learn to trust Him all the more. As we move towards a life of financial freedom, we experience the abundance that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. We realize it's not about material abundance, but something so much better.

I have heard many people talk about how the collapsing economy is causing people to take a good hard look at what's important; to push the reset button on a lifestyle of spending and excess, and choose instead to make wise, informed decisions in the days to come. If you are struggling financially right now, perhaps God intends to use this trial to teach you to overcome with His help. We can choose to go under in despair, or ride the wave with confidence—not in ourselves and not in the economy—but in God alone. Surf or swim? I know which one I choose!

Dear Lord, please help me to overcome these circumstances with Your help. I confess that I have let the bad news and uncertain times pull at me. I want to learn to trust You in a whole new way and to honor You with my money like never before. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Learning To Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Financial Survival in Uncertain Times by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
If you are struggling financially, pray for wisdom as to the changes you can start making in your finances. Whatever God guides you to do, do it.

Do you allow the economic climate to affect your outlook? How can you shift your perspective away from the world and keep your focus on God?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)

Psalm 37:18-19, "The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I started down the road toward financial freedom in October. The ways in which that has blessed our lives are immeasurable.
In addition to the resources you mentioned, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover". He makes the process easy to understand and actually fun! It has been LIFE-CHANGING.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I would rather surf than swim,because satan is the shark in the water,I would have God as my surfboard and get quickly to shore!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rather surf and soar. I am so glad that I have this choice and that God is there teaching me, helping me not to fall off my surfboard.

Anonymous Jennifer said...

Marybeth, I can not tell you how timely this devotional is!! I have been praying about a situation I just learned of in my place of work concerning money; I am the new finance director and I was at a loss on how to approach everyone on how we're to be responsible with our finances. Last night the Lord was telling me I needed to let them know we are called to be good stewards of the gifts & blessings He gives us - whether that be monetarily or with our spiritual gifts. 18 months ago the Lord had shown my several Bible verses concerning our own finances and THANKFULLY I wrote all of it down, and was reading through it again hoping to use it in my meeting.

Your devotional was just the encouragement I needed!! And I want to read it to my co-workers. With God's help, hopefully my words will be full of grace and seasoned with salt.

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