5 Steps for Keep Your Head Above Water

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

The phrase “keeping your head above water,” brings up images of someone in a lake, pond, or swimming pool who is in deep water and struggling to keep his or head above the water level. This phrase often is used to describe someone who is struggling to manage, cope, or get by. Maybe that describes you.

You might be trying as best you can to keep your head above water where your personal finances are concerned. Or dealing with a problem that threatens to overwhelm you. Or handling a tough assignment that has potential to bring you down. Or dealing with a family crisis that could destroy your family. You get the idea.

Paul, the early New Testament missionary, wrote the words of our Bible verses from Philippians 3. Do you know where Paul was when he wrote these inspired words? In a Roman prison, chained daily to a mean-spirited Roman guard. Paul definitely was trying to keep his head above water.

How do you “keep your head above water”? The Bible verses at the top of this post show how.

Acknowledge That You Aren’t Perfect
Paul was quick to acknowledge that he was not perfect: “not that I have already attained this, or have already arrived at my goal.”

Every person makes mistakes, has weak spots, deals with “cracks in his armor,” and copes with personal flaws. Here’s the good news. Even with our flaws and mistakes, God does not give up on us. He has this amazing way of doing great things with flawed people. Trust Him for the wisdom you need to deal with that issue that is forcing you to keep your head above water.

Develop a Plan
So, a troubling issue threatens to bring you down financially or personally. Develop your plan of action. Our verses continue: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” For missionary Paul, one of his big goals was to become more like Christ.

If your issue is a financial one, develop a money-management plan. If your issue is a relationship, seek the counsel of a trusted person. If you are dealing with a physical issue, see your doctor. If a crisis threatens you, develop a plan for dealing with the stress your crisis brings you.

No doubt you have heard the adage, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.”

Refuse to Live in the Past
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind,” says our verses. Thinking about the past is much different from living in it. Living in the past makes us believe we never will find happiness, satisfaction, or fulfillment ever again. Living in the past makes us fearful of our future.

Sometimes the best way to keep our heads above water is to practice forgetfulness. All of us have spoken words we regretted and behaved in ways that hurt us and others. A positive step for keeping your head above water is to do the best you can and forget the rest.

Keep Moving Forward, Even If It Frightens You
“Straining toward what is ahead” states our verses. When you feel overwhelmed by a crisis, by money problems, by bad health, or by relationship issues you won’t “feel like” moving forward. But we have to decide that we will advance when we don’t feel like it. We must move forward even when it scares us.

Playing it safe will not solve your problems nor will it take you anywhere. No one solves their problems without encountering some road bumps along the way. What’s required, then, is that we forge ahead because the solutions are before us.

Be “All In” with God
Our verses end this way: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” These words describe a person who is submitted to Jesus, and trusting God through thick and thin.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed and like I am about to go under I enjoy reading Isaiah 43:2. This verse refers to a person who is “all in” with God and gives these great assurances:
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isn’t this a great verse? You can trust God to help you in tough times. He will stand with you, strengthen you, and give you hope.

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