Is there really enough time in our busy schedules to be a good Dad? It seems that too often Dads are plagued with overloaded work schedules and no energy left for quality family time. We often feel trapped by life’s demands. Our agendas and attitudes become dictated by stress, while it depletes our energy. It barely seems possible to stay on top of all life’s expectations—meeting the financial demands, make the most of opportunities to minister to others, spend intimate times hearing from God, planning special times with our wives, and intentionally making quality memories that will positively influence our children’s lives for the future. We have many good intentions, but the flow of life tends to work against us. Its like the old saying “up the creek without a paddle”, leaving many Dads with disappointment and regret over the years that go by.
What can be done to counter-attack the constant ambush of life’s urgencies that pull so hard to keep us from enjoying the most significant things in our lives? I believe that the first step is to recognize that it is an ambush from the enemy. One of Satan’s most destructive tactics is the consuming power of stress. Stress has a way of keeping us from functioning with God’s perspective and purposes in mind. Stress is a negative force which can usually be transferred into very positive results. The difference is in how we respond to the stress in our lives. There is a process that psychologists call Negative Thought Chains. Basically, negative thoughts often generate additional negative thoughts, producing a chain of deepening despondency and increasing counterproductive thoughts. It is urgent to stop the counterproductive spiral of external pressures before it develops into an emotional and biochemical imbalance. This literally robs a person of a positive life perspective, which, in turn, destroys the ability to enjoy the opportunities and blessings around us. Basically, we become individuals living from the outside-in, instead of living from the inside-out as God has purposed for us. Living from the inside-out is when we decisively submit ourselves to God’s Spirit to work within us, through His Word, worship, and prayer—communion with God. This process begins with decisive action to no longer submit to the external pressures that control our life’s’ agenda.
I think we can learn a lot from surfing. The flow of the coastal surf is a good example of how the positive and negative currents can affect our lives. I remember when I bought my first surf board. I couldn’t wait to break it in and hit waves. It wasn’t the best weather for surfing with dark clouds beginning to move in on the coast, but I was determined to enjoy the waves as the surf was building—rain or shine! I walked with my board out on the jetties a ways to launch into the surf just behind the break point. I paddled about fifty feet away, getting a feel for the new board and waiting for the right set to come in to ride. Unfortunately, after about ten minutes it began pouring so badly that I could not even see shoreline. Even though I was paddling towards the shore, I was surprised that so many minutes went by without a set of breaking waves coming along. After about 25 minutes I began to get a little nervous and tired of paddling. I was becoming exhausted. Nervousness began to give in to worry when I realized that I couldn’t seem to make any progress towards the shore. By this time, the rain was pounding so hard that it felt like hundreds of small sharp stones were pelting my back. I looked over to my left trying to get a visual of the jetties, when I realized that I was caught in a current that was pulling me away from the shore at a pretty-rapid pace. I gathered my last bit of energy to paddle parallel with the shoreline toward the jetties as fast as I could, since there were only a few feet of jetties left to reach for before I would be carried off into the Gulf of Mexico. Thank God, I realized the current force that was working against me when I did, because I made it to the last few rocks just in time to pull myself to safety on solid ground!
It wasn’t until the next day that I understood I was caught in a riptide and how to handle it in the future. I also learned a lesson from that experience and how it relates to the positive and negative forces in life. Surfing can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. The positive force of the incoming waves makes it a joy for surfers to ride, but there are also riptides of negative currents forcing everything in its path away from the shoreline. Many people drown when caught in a riptide, because they exhaust their energy paddling against the riptide that is intent on taking them out to sea. The way to beat the riptide is to paddle parallel, aligned with the foundation of God’s shoreline. Once you are moving parallel with the shore, you will soon be carried by the positive current of surf, providing wonderful opportunities to ride the waves—it’s like walking on water!
Take time to align yourself and your life with the forces of God’s Spirit by diving into His Word and swimming in His presence. Be decisive to position yourself to live from the inside-out, empowered by God’s surf, carrying you towards His purposes for you and your family.
…So flow in the waves of God’s presence, and enjoy the ride!