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The art of survival, in Jesus

— Allie Murphy

“I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure” these are the words missionary Eric Liddell said about running. I feel the same way about songwriting. I’m a mom of four and I can often be found late at night singing my heart out into a dark room over black and white keys. It’s where I feel God’s pleasure. It’s also where I work out my big feelings and lay them at the feet of Jesus. The piano room has been my prayer room, for years.

The summer of 2020 a friend called to check in, she was worried I was sinking, and she wasn’t wrong. I gave her my pat answer and man did I have it down. “I’m surviving!” I spoke cheerfully, but lately the response didn’t feel like enough.

Our fourth baby had been born a week before the whole world shut down and though I was no stranger to life with a newborn, this was different. My brain was foggy, my body tired, my mind swarming with worry over the world and the way of it, my heart lonely due to weeks on end of being housebound and the fully capable human I knew myself to be was nowhere to be found.

Sinking, she said: “I just had this vision of you on a surfboard in the middle of waves.” 

I hung up the phone, ran to the piano and started scribbling messy lyrics on a page that later morphed into what the song is today:

…floating on water

floating on water

When I’ve lost all feeling

When I’ve lost my sight

O Holy Spirit restore my life,

I’m not sinking or swimming

I’m just trying to survive

Floating on, floating on, just floating on water…

The song was a two fold prayer in that moment while visions of what my friend had spoken circled over my heart and brain. It was a prayer of recognition. I was making peace with my own state of being and asking the Lord to restore my sight of his redemptive plan amidst newborn days and pandemic waves.


What is survival anyway? Surely it’s more than the answer we give to people when asked if we’re making it through a rough time. And surely survival is more than just a season we muster through on our way to truly living? And even when found in a time of survival for maybe months or even years why does it feel like not enough?

Perhaps it feels like not enough because we forget where we are. The echoes of a world unbroken by sin proclaim that we were made for something greater. A future garden of beautiful hope filled light illuminates our current season of strain and we feel the weight of what shouldn’t be.

And here we are floating through these days, surviving. In John 16:33 Jesus speaks “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” 

We are tempted to flail because we forget who has overcome. We kick, we scream we try to get ourselves out, at least I sure do. 

If you’re ever in the middle of the ocean lost without a boat, what is the number one rule in survival? Float. Don’t swim, don’t thrash, don’t flail, it will use up too much energy. Float and wait to be found. Maybe we flail our arms in desperate loss of hope. Or maybe we flail our arms in defiant anger. Angry at the way of it all, shaking our fists, crying like David in Psalm 22 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The passage of Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calms the storm is a perfect example of our human response to calamity:

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

I can imagine it, because I’ve been there. I can envision the disciples violently throwing water out of the boat as they try to save themselves. I can sense the anger when they think that their beloved Jesus isn’t doing anything to help them. And, I can hear them, as I’ve heard my own heart yell: “DO SOMETHING!” Can you imagine the exasperated reactions when with three simple words Jesus put an end to their desperation? Any ounce of their own effort towards survival would have seemed ridiculous in comparison to the way in which the Son of God brought it all to an end.

And yet we still doubt. We doubt in ways both big and small, and it usually comes through some form of self-mustering. Another boot strap pulled, another answer given, another solution found on our own accord simply pales in comparison to the fact that the Lord has already drawn us in and met us with the best of all survival plans. “Peace! Be Still!”

This summer two years after writing it, my song “Floating on Water” released into the world. I am still learning the art of survival in the name of Jesus. But isn’t that the Christian walk? A continuing and deepening understanding that the Lord is with us and will fight for us. (Exodus 14:14) These are the words I penned for the turnaround of the song:

You have come to talk to the water.

You have come to silence my sea.

You have come so I could float on these waters.

You have come. You have come

Jesus didn’t come to this world for us to get our act together or to swim ourselves to shore. Nope. He also didn’t promise us a life without storms. He came that the lost may be found. He came so that you would be found. Let’s turn to him in our seasons of survival, or difficulty. Let’s see our God for who he is: our ultimate survival plan ur only way out. Our net drawing us in, our light leading us back. That is after all who He is. Our beautiful and precious Savior.

As we turn to him in our seasons of floating let us pray: Heavenly Father, we cry out to you, our Abba father save us! Keep us. Hold us. Rescue us. Keep us afloat even when we feel like we are sinking. Forgive us for our anger in times of trial. Forgive us for trying to make our own way. Help us to have faith to know that you alone hold us fast and have a plan for our good even through the difficulties of life. Lord protect us and arm us with your peace. We know that you are able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine. Help us now in our seasons of difficulty that we would see the only way out is through you, Lord Jesus, our only real hope of survival. You have come, you have come.


Sep 19, 2022

Your message touched me deeply. My family recently lost my mother. My father is frail and we believe will not be in this world long. This has put into play several housing needs for siblings. A brother (and wife) that has VERY little income that lives in my parents garage. That has to end soon. A sister with three young adults and a baby living in the house which also ends when my father passes. So, my sister (there are five of us) and I have been working hard, flailing in an ocean of postings, to find a mobile home and affordable property. It has felt like swimming against riptide. But, this message reminds me that if we just stop flailing and float HE can take over. So I stopped and gave it all to our Lord.

Thank you so much for the reminder.
God is indeed GREAT.

Sep 19, 2022

Before you could talk you sang yourself to sleep! A few years passed and you would thrum out your your feelings, and later your faith, at the piano! I am thankful God gave you the GIFT of that escape place, the safe hide-out, the creative door to a place you could “sing yourself into” whenever you needed it. Glad you are sharing it with others! TERRIFIC!

Sep 19, 2022

The Lord works through people like you. Thank you for the serenity.

Sep 19, 2022

WOW! I am sitting in Adoration, reading & listening to your story, true story for many, thank you for your inspiration & a reminder that HE will always be there to help us calm our seas of life. I have a Women’s retreat coming up in Oct & I am going to play this for them!
Gods blessings to you today & always🙏

Cheryl Clifford
Sep 19, 2022

Beautiful words song, enjoyed and loved reading the story. Thankyou for the words of encouragement.

Natalie B Harrell
Sep 19, 2022

Beautiful story
I’m passing it on to our daughter’s who are young mom’s starting there “Float”

Brian Murphy
Sep 19, 2022

Beautiful song, the words hit close.


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