Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Powering through or sailing with the wind filling your sails?

The journey.  Author John Ortberg talks about our journey in life being a one of piloting a motorboat or a sailboat.  How are you living your journey?  In the motorboat we become so goal minded, sometimes so obsessive that we are focused only on gassing up the tank, and setting our course, that sometimes we miss God’s gifts happening around us.  We start the motorboat engine and we live life being in control as much as possible.  But a sailboat is a different story. We play a role in hoisting the sails and steering the rudder, to be sure, but we are utterly dependent on the wind.  The wind does the work.  I am not simply speaking about being laid back assuming that God will do everything and I have to do nothing.  It is much more complex than that. Our task is to be spiritually transformed by our course in discipleship.  And our spiritual growth requires discernment.  As our journey continues we look for God’s spirit, which literally means wind, we look for God’s wind to direct our sailboats.  An experienced sailor can simply look at a lake and tell where the wind is blowing the strongest.  The wise sailor knows when to raise and lower the sails; so to it is for us as we mature in the faith.  We learn to respond to the fresh wind of the Spirit, for God does provide them. 

Where is God’s wind in your life?  What is the Spirit directing you toward?  Are you going there?  Or are you going the opposite way?  And how many times in our lives when God called us one direction, did we try to go another?  How many times have we tried to flee God?  Have you ever had an experience when you simply could not see God in your life and even rejected the whole notion of faith?  Perhaps sometimes we become such a motorboat in our life thinking that we don’t even realize that we are not stopping to let the wind of God direct and redirect us.  

Listening and watching for God’s wind, God’s Spirit, is not a call to sit back and watch the world go by.  It is not a call to let everyone else make decisions and do all the work, it is not a directive to say we are not influential in the direction of catching the wind in our sails, instead the journey is about being wise enough, and faith filled enough to know that living and sharing God’s grace, is bigger than my one boat, is bigger than my one engine, and receives its power not by my own supplied gasoline, but by God’s wind and Spirit.  May we catch God’s wind in our journeys, may we watch for signs of the times, that let us remain open enough to have our life redirected along the way.

 From Pastor Randy's Sermon 6/29-30, 2013

From Pamela:  

Most of the readers know that I am an experienced sailor.  Years ago, I would go out on the lake, often single handed, and sail for hours wherever the wind was blowing.  If I had crew, I would go out on the edge of storms (the best wind is often on the edge of a storm) and press craft and crew to maximum capability.  

Now my boat is almost 40 years old.  I am over 60. Although I am confident my boat could manage "sailing on the edge" of the storm, I am not sure my body or my psyche are interested.  It is all about allowing life to provide lessons about taking risks, pressing one's resources and respecting the desire for longevity (that is, I would rather stay in port and sail into the future than confront a passing storm).  

The boating metaphors relate well to the practice of spiritual discernment.  In life and ministry (as well as in sailing) it is wise to check out the craft (ie, physical resources) the crew (ie, the people involved) and the wind (ie, the sense of God's inspiration) when making choices about vision and mission.  

It is true that passengers on my boat often are frustrated with the amount of time I spend checking my rigging, "ship shaping" the lines and the gear.  But I always remind them that things happen very quickly in a high wind, and that is not the time to be working with fouled lines.  

In the same way, people may get frustrated or impatient with the amount of time we take to pray and discern God's will for our individual lives and our shared ministry.  But time taken to prepare our hearts and minds to confront the hard facts and details of life in this world is time well spent. 

Prayerful discernment is a source of balance that enable me to travel safely through the changeable paths of life and ministry.  When I am balanced I can navigate safely through all sorts of winds, with maximum effectiveness, by staying under the wings of God's sheltering wisdom.  

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