Tossed About

photo of woman swimming in ocean
Photo by Rachel Carpentier on

Today’s post is written by Deb del Villar – a good illustration about kids (and adults) who are tossed about by waves and every wind of doctrine.


As a child, I spent several weeks each summer at my grandparent’s home on the Jersey shoreline … something that I looked forward to all year. My four sisters and I spent hours beachcombing, riding the waves, and building sand creations. All these years later, one event stands out above all the others.

Our grandparents taught us to check the number of the lifeguard chair where we were swimming. When we came out of the surf we could check the chair and make sure we were in the right place. This way we always made it back to our towels and beach blankets.

We were also taught to watch for and abide by the undertow warning flags. My grandparents warned that if we were ever caught in an undertow, we shouldn’t fight it, but let it draw us down the shoreline until we popped up again. Frightening thought for a young child!

Well, sure enough, the inevitable happened. One day I saw the yellow warning flag, signifying that there was a stronger than usual undertow that day.  I knew I was a strong swimmer so in I went anyway. Sure enough, I was caught in the undertow. Instantly, I was turned upside down, tossed all around, and dragged against my will. I tried to find the top of the water but had no success. I fought valiantly … and then remembered my grandfather’s teachings: “Do not fight, you will pop up.”

Sure enough, almost immediately upon ceasing to fight, I popped up and swam to the shore. I am pretty sure I weighed an extra 10 pounds with all the sand that had accumulated in my swim suit. What seemed like an eternity had lasted only seconds! Upon exiting the surf, I went to the lifeguard chair and found the number. I was 10 lifeguard chairs away from where I started. I wearily made my way back. Already my grandparents and sisters were looking for me.

Did you know that undertows usually affect young and weak swimmers?

Now, as summer approaches I am once again remembering that lesson and what it illustrates. Ephesians 4:14 says: So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

We need to help our young, immature-in-the-faith children to grow strong in the doctrines of truth. This way they’ll know what places to avoid, what people are bad influences, what things they shouldn’t do. An inward warning flag (the Holy Spirit) will rise and say “Do not enter … dangerous waters.” They will not be easily tricked and drawn into dangerous situations.  They will know better than to think they are strong enough and instead rely on God’s strength. Yet if they do enter and get caught in the waves of evil, being tossed to and fro, they will remember your teachings. They will know the way out! When they emerge from the waves, beaten and weak, they will look for the lifeguard chair – the compass – the way home – turning back to God and His Word. God (and you) will be looking and waiting for them!

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