View From the Shore (3.0) #6: Beware the Undertow

The weather has been less than ideal this week, if you’re looking for all-day sun. But if you time things just right, you can have a solid four-hour period of beach time, followed by a storm or two. That has led to some days where the water is peaceful and calm, and others where the turbulent waves call for yellow ‘dangerous current’ warning flags.

Standing out in the waves, the water crashing well short of the shore (but still falling into the ‘shore break’ category), I watched over my eldest son and his cousin as they gamely crashed into waves. They saw the bubbles and foam caused by the crashing waves that were neither too high nor all of that fearsome looking, and considered the beach a safe place to play, warning signs or not.

The boys could only see the surface, the apparently effortless breaking of the waves and the beauty of the ocean. The boys didn’t notice the other warning signs, the cross-pattern of crashing currents.

The boys didn’t recognize the undertow.

As I stood out there with them, watching their cheerful enthusiasm and periodically grabbing them by the shirt out from under a wave, I recognized that I’m quite a bit like the boys in the waves.

I can see what’s on the surface. I see something as okay or acceptable; I see something as painless or victimless; I see the symptoms but not the actual problem. I judge a book by its cover…

… and fail to see the undertow under the waves. (I know, I just mixed metaphors.)

The reality is that there are things which God has deemed good or bad for me, and whether I can see the reasons or not, there are warning signs about what I’m getting myself into. Sometimes, it’s not a STAY OUT sign; sometimes, it’s just being on my guard.

But if I fail to see the signs, if I fail to learn from my experience, the results can be deadly.

Like getting sucked out to sea by the undertow.



About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at,, and the brand new
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