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The Ebb and Flow of Faith

I quietly sit in the softness of the sand, mesmerized by the steady roaring and crashing of the mighty ocean’s waves. I know the tide is rhythmically making its way in as each wave gets progressively closer to my little perch, but I can’t quite bring myself to move. Not yet. The timelessness and strength of these mighty waters grabs my attention, reminding me of how truly small I am.

How many people came to these very shores before me, wondering just as I am? How many times over all of creation has the tide flowed in, and then ebbed away, leaving new treasures behind? Did those who came before me look up and acknowledge heaven? My heart is pensive in this moment, and as I reflect, I realize something.

My faith, my journey with God, is much like the ocean’s tide. There are times my faith is so strong, rooted deeply in a Creator who loves me. I feel the mountains of insecurity, fear and anxiety wiped away completely and seemingly forever as faith flows powerfully into the core of my being. My joy, my peace, my trust level in God are so incredibly high!

These are the times of rejoicing, even amidst my sorrow and suffering. These are the days I have a smile that can make no sense given my circumstances. Or, if my circumstances are great, joy that can be easily misconstrued as something other than what it is: deep faith in an almighty, powerful and ridiculously, loving God.

Yet there are also times when I do not sense my Creator standing by my side. My faith seems to have ebbed away, growing ever distant in the horizon. It can happen when I’m drowning in unexpected and challenging circumstances. It can happen when life seems to be going my way. But whatever the reason, I feel alone and unprotected. Exposed and laid bare, unsure of what to do or how to move forward.

I am learning to continually embrace this voyage called faith. The seasons of incredible flow, and the ones where the tide of faith seems to be pulling away from me. I am learning to stay humble and centered in both seasons. To remember that there are times as a parent I would hold my children’s hands as they learned to walk more effectively, and then the times I let go. Not because I was cruel or enjoyed seeing them fall. But because I knew it would allow them to gain greater confidence, greater growth and ultimately experience more freedom as they worked through the process.

And so I am learning. To look for the treasures that can be easier to see when the waters of my faith retreat. Treasures like perseverance, character, hope, humility, consistency, and community. These gifts sparkle just like the beautiful shells the receding tide leaves behind, waiting to be discovered by those who look. I remember that while it may feel like God has let go of me, he is a kind and faithful parent. He is standing right next to me, cheering me on. Comforting me when I fall. Reminding me that he is faithful even when I feel faithless (2 Timothy 2:13 TLB).

I am also learning to embrace the seasons of abundance. To not take these seasons for granted, or to fear for when the tide may next ebb away. But instead, to rejoice and remember from where “all blessings flow” (James 1:17 VOICE). To not run ahead of God in the moment of my joy, but to continue to lean on him and revel in his loving-kindness and strength. Not my own. Not my will or my direction. But His. Because I am convinced my Creator’s ways work best whether the tide of my faith is high—or low. Whether I feel it in the moment, or I don’t.

Mostly, I am learning to embrace my smallness as a great gift. It dims the unending pressure to solve, to know all the answers, to understand everything as I learn to look to one greater than I. My ultimate power source who, in His timing, gives me the answers and direction I seek.

Finally, the waves lap right up to me, touching my toes. I must move, as nothing is permanent in this life. I brush off the tiny grains of sand, ready for the day ahead of me.


What has your faith journey been like? How do you handle seasons where your faith is high? When it ebbs away?

Take some time to think about what God might be trying to teach you in both the high and low tides of your faith. Reflect on the treasures that come in either season, and how you might become more aware of those treasures in the moment.

Finally, reflect on how you might apply Micah 6:8: "But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously" (MSG).

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that you stand by my side in the moments of my humanness. That your love remains even when I can’t perceive or sense it. I know you are always working on my behalf. Help me to look up for your comforting hand reaching for me in the moments when I fall. I know you will help steady me. Remind me to celebrate your goodness in the moments of victory, recognizing that all good things come from you. May I love you with all my passion and intelligence, embracing our times of prayer together. I love you, Papa. Amen.

To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to invite her to speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.


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