Survival Mode

ca. 2001 --- Girl Floating on Inner tube --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Once, when I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and in the midst of a family crisis, a good friend took one look at me and gave me some very welcome advice:

You are dealing with a lot. Step back and take a break. Allow yourself to be in survival mode for a while.”

She gestured to my work piled on the table, some cleaning supplies waiting on the counter, our jammed calendar on the fridge, and the cookbooks scattered on the couch.

Her words were like a lifesaver for my spirit. They gave me permission to put aside anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, and allowed this sinking girl a chance to catch her breath and float.

But today, several months later, I’m still floating. Somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten so comfortable with mindlessly bobbing along, that my muscles have weakened and I’ve lost all sense of direction.

And now my neglected relationships, cluttered house, unhealthy body, and starving soul are stranded at sea.

I realize that my friend’s advice brought sabbath– but was never meant to be a lifestyle.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Through the words of my friend, God tossed me a much-needed raft of rest. And I turned that raft into a houseboat, and sunk an anchor deep.

Over time, I got used to my dangling limbs and the monotonous horizon. I grew accustomed to being at the mercy of the waves. That sabbath became a selfish ring, and I convinced myself that a life adrift was the only life for me. Life for me.

But God, in his loving kindness, has been calling me to solid ground. He’s been reminding me that life’s not about floating along- or even about my survival. That salvation and sabbath are about Him. About Him.

I forgot that the point of survival is to live. The point of rest is to remember.

Jesus is my rescuer, my rest, and my rudder. Yes, so I can live, but also to give the hope of salvation to others drowning at sea.

So now, I’m going breathe deep, work hard, and move forward. I’m going to remember Who is supposed to be in the center of every ring, and Who is the author of every rest and the perfecter of all work.

I’m headed to solid ground… to work out my salvation for His glory.

Because the ripples of my life were always supposed to reach way past the edges of this inner tube.

“So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Philippians 2: 10-13


How about you? Are you drowning in hopelessness? Reach for the lifeline that’s offered in Jesus. Take it friend, and trust in Him alone.

Or are you in over your head with the waves of life and can’t quite catch your breath? Take the sabbath He provides. Be still and know. Rest and remember.

Or… are you stuck in survival mode?… floating along in a life vest of lethargy and self-centeredness? If so, pull up anchor and ask Him to tow you to shore. Life is waiting…

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8 thoughts on “Survival Mode

  1. Annie Rim May 11, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    What powerful words! You’re right – survival mode can easily become the norm… Love the image of rest instead of survival. I’m trying to be aware of when I need rest and to find it before the situation becomes dire… (Not always easy!) Love this encouragement.

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  2. kaylietess May 12, 2015 / 5:42 am

    This is perfect for me today. I have been living in survival mode for years and I this, “And I turned that raft into a houseboat, and sunk an anchor deep” rings true deep down for me. I think I’m going to post rest is to remember on a sticky note and put it on the wall today. Thank you!

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  3. Dede May 12, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    This is true for me sometimes. Just this morning the Lord gently reminded me that I need to start using my wobbly legs more. It’s been a rough patch around here That’s one of the reasons I love the blogging community so much. There is so much encouragement we can share and receive when going forward is such a challenge.

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  4. betsydecruz May 12, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    This is so wise, Karen! We do need rest, but we easily become selfish about it, resenting it when others knock on our door for help or attention. God called us to rest, so we could get refreshed before continuing on in the good works He prepared for us! One thing that has encouraged me lately is to remember that even when I go back to work, I can carry with me an attitude of REST in Jesus.

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  5. Abby May 12, 2015 / 2:05 pm

    “I forgot that the point of survival is to live. The point of rest is to remember.” Amen, Karen! There is so much wisdom and truth in this post, friend. I have gotten too comfortable with simply floating in the past, too. I forget God doesn’t call me to be stagnant, but to abide in Him. Thank you for your words here today. I will hang on to this one for sure.

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  6. Anita Ojeda May 12, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    Amen! It’s so easy to fall into the long-term survival mode during crisis and forget that we weren’t meant to live that way. May the Holy Spirit be with you to encourage you and lift you back onto your feet so that you can thrive–even in the midst of crisis.

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  7. Kristin Hill Taylor May 14, 2015 / 7:55 pm

    “Her words were like a lifesaver for my spirit.” –> Isn’t that amazing how we can speak such truth into each other’s life? So much so, we can rescue each other with that lifesaver you mention. I needed this reminder. Thanks for sharing your heart and linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

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