Tag Archives: Sailing

Sailing Through Life – Part 7 – Reflections on Feeling Lost

As we sailed throughout our journey, we were surprised how often we felt at least slightly lost. We had wandered and taken some wrong turns or simply lost track of where were because we were too busy enjoying the scenery and activities. “Where’s our room?” “Which deck is that on?” “Which deck are we on?” “Can we get to the other end of the ship on this deck?” We spent time laughing at ourselves. But we never worried – we knew we weren’t really lost. We were just disoriented.

The important thing was we knew we really couldn’t get lost. There was always lots of help. There were signs and maps posted along the way.

There were also plenty of people to help and staff to assist. As long as we were on board, we could never be truly lost.

It just like the life of those who are baptized. We’re on board with Jesus. We sometimes feel lost; we wander too far, take some wrong turns. We lose track of where we are and where we need to be because  we’re too busy enjoying the scenery and activities of life. Yet we’re never really lost – we just get disoriented. Think about baptism.

At the moment of baptism God makes some very special promises.

“Baptism is the sign and seal of God’s promises to this covenant people. In baptism God promises by grace alone: to forgive our sins; to adopt us into the Body of Christ, the Church; to send the Holy Spirit daily to renew and cleanse us; and to resurrect us to eternal life.” This promise is made visible in the water of baptism. Water cleanses; purifies; refreshes; sustains: Jesus Christ is living water. (1)

In baptism we are getting on board with Jesus for our journey through life.

“Through baptism Christ calls us to new obedience: to love and trust God completely; to forsake the evil of the world; and to live a new and holy life.” (2)

We may become disoriented through our wandering and sinning, but we are and always will be on board.

“Yet, when we fall into sin, we must not despair of God’s mercy, nor continue in sin,
for baptism is the sign and seal of God’s eternal covenant of grace with us.” (3)

Just like on a cruise ship, God provides plenty of help. There are signs and maps – the Word of God. God sends plenty of people to help – family, friends, fellow Christians, mentors, coaches, teachers, friends. God’s staff is always present and available – Pastors, Sunday School teachers, Youth leaders, Christian authors, angels, His Holy Spirit.





The reality is, baptism assures us that once we’re on board, we’re never really lost; only disoriented for a while. I’m not sure if King David ever sailed on a ship, but he knew the same reality.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
(Ps. 139:2-12)

Once we’re on board, God keeps us on board. Jesus affirmed it when He said, “My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.” (John 10:27-30 The Message)

The reality is, once we’re on board we’re never really lost; only disoriented for a while. Jesus has us – and He will never let go!

(1) Baptismal Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America
(2) Baptismal Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America
(3) Baptismal Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America

Sailing Through Life – Part 5 When You’re Getting Nowhere Fast

While sailing at sea my wife and I tried to get in a walk each day. As we did so I was struck by how the direction and speed with which we walked created a clear picture of another life lesson. If we walked in the same direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were making more and faster progress than we really were. On the other hand, when we got to the other side and walked opposite the direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were losing ground with each step. It seemed that for every step forward we went backwards 2 or 3. On this side of the ship all I could think of was the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” The image that came to mind was trying to walk up a down escalator. (1)

Have you ever felt that way? That you’re getting nowhere fast – that for every step forward you are taking 2 backward? That instead of gaining ground you’re losing ground? That the faster you go the further you get behind? The harder you try the wearier you become. Yet, you hesitate to stop or slow down for fear you’ll not complete your task on time, if at all. And the strength fades as the fatigue sets in. What to do?

Not surprisingly, the Bible has an answer. The wise preacher declared, “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is not our speed through life that counts. It’s our efficiency and strength – managing our body and soul well. When the losing ground feelings arise it’s time to slow down. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:8). God is saying, “Slow down. Stop. Let go. I’m here to help.”

Certainly God knows whereof He speaks! Recall what happened after 6 days of creating the world: “… on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) What’s good for God is good and necessary for us. So God addressed the need for and importance of rest when He laid down His 10 commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11) God repeated the command often – as in Exodus 31:15 (Good News Translation): “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me.” (2)

It only stands to reason, then, that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath Day but also disciplined Himself to rest. Often he withdrew from the crowds and disciples to a mountain in order to rest and pray. He also wanted His disciples to develop the habit of resting. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31) Jesus also invited us to develop this ‘rest discipline’. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

So when you’re going up that down escalator remember: Slow Down! Stop! Let Go! Get in the habit of not only setting aside the Sabbath day weekly, but beyond that, set aside some portion of each day.

Try taking time to pray this prayer:

“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations of slowing down; to look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one; to pet a stray dog; to watch a spider build a web; to smile at a child; or to read a good book. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Then when you run you’ll run faster, when you step ahead your steps will be farther apart and your strength will be greater. And it will be amazing where you’ll go and what you’ll get done in the strength of Jesus.

Keep in mind what lies ahead: I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.” (Revelation 14:13)

(1) Creator: Einar Kling-Odencrants — Copyright:x-default .

Sailing Through Life – Part 4 – Staying the Course


It was the first day on board the ship. Outside it was cloudy and sprinkling. Yet as we looked over the sea it was quite a sight. Over the ship’s bow we saw very dark clouds. Looking starboard at about the 1:00 position there was a patch of blue sky; about the 4:00 position there was rain. Aft-ward it was cloudy. Port-ward it was partly sunny.

It struck me that the Captain didn’t point the ship towards the sunniest area nor change direction to avoid rain. Rather he stayed the course. He could stay the course because the route was clearly marked out for him and he was singularly focused on where we were headed. With his eyes on the goal he was not to be deterred. The important thing for him was not seeking sunshine or avoiding the rain. The important thing was to get where we were headed on time and safely. So he followed the course laid out.

It occurred to me that I’ve heard this before somewhere. Sure enough, in Hebrews 12:1-2.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus focused on a guaranteed future joy of reunion with His Father. That singular focus empowered Him to stay the course no matter what the weather.

With our cultural weather today it is getting increasingly harder to openly follow Jesus. We are easily tempted to back off, to become distracted, deterred or detoured. So it is increasingly important to focus on Jesus, no matter the weather. It was the same for the Hebrew Christians. so the author encourages them: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) Stay focused.

Storms may strike, rain may pour down, clouds may darken, the weather may work against us. We will always encounter sorrow, grief, disappointment, trial, trouble, defeat, and failure as we sail through life. Stay focused on Jesus. Stay the course. Run with perseverance.

Because our Captain stayed the course we arrived at our first port safely and on time – and even with bright sunshine! Be assured the day is coming when we will arrive – safely and on time – in the Port of Jesus. We will see Him face to face. With that joy before us we can focus on Jesus. Stay the course.

G. A. Studdert-Kennedy penned it poetically (1) :

Sometimes I wish that I might do
Just one grand deed and die,
And by that one grand deed reach up
To meet God in the sky.
But such is not Thy way, O God
Not such is Thy decree,
But deed by deed, and tear by tear
Our souls must climb to Thee,
As climbed the only Son of God
From manger unto Cross;
Who learned, through tears and blood and sweat
To count this world but loss;

Who left the Virgin Mother’s Arms
To seek those arms of shame,
Outstretched upon the lonely hill
To which the darkness came.
As deed by deed, and tear by tear
He climbed up to the height,
Each deed a splendid deed,
Each tear a Jewel shining bright,
So grant us, Lord, the patient heart,
To climb the upward way
Until we stand upon the height,
And see the perfect day.

(1) ROUGH RHYMES OF A PADRE, “Patience”, Hodder & Stoughton Limited – Publishers, Toronto, Canada, p. 52-53, from https://archive.org/details/roughrhymesofpad00studuoft/page/n9

Sailing Through Life- Part 3 The Importance of Reading the Menu

Before we headed to our first meal on the ship we read the food/dining guide information that was in our stateroom. It gave the prices for some of the various onboard eateries. Their menus looked wonderful. The seating was special. It was tempting to make some reservations.

But then we noticed a couple of important facts. The prices at these eateries were somewhat on the high side. And there were numerous places where we could eat without reservations and without paying any additional cost. Dining and food was included in the ships’ package deal. It was already purchased. The temptation to make reservations at the higher end locations quickly faded. After all, we Dutch folk are all for the cheaper fare!

As I began to think about paying for what’s already included I realized a strong spiritual parallel. So often we try to ‘pay’ or ‘buy’ our way into God’s good graces. We commit to study more, pray more, or attend church more regularly. We do good deeds to pile up the credits. We bargain with God – ‘God if You will do this I’ll do this’ – to gain something more from Him. We do so because we forget to check the guide and menus.

The truth is, when God saved us it was a package deal. Everything we try to pay for is already ours. It’s included in the deal, along with so much more. Here’s some of God’s menu already available to us.

We have joy (John 15:11)
We are beyond condemnation (Romans 8:1)
We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)
We have been adopted (Ephesians 1:5 & Romans 8:15)
We have abundant life (John 10:10)
We are blessed (Ephesians 1:3)
We are loved (Ephesians 1:4)
We are chosen (Ephesians 1:4)
We are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)
We are redeemed (Ephesians 1:7)
We are lavished with the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8)
We have incredible power (Ephesians 1:19-20 & 3:20)
\We have a seat in the heavenly with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)
We have access to God at any moment (Ephesians 2:18)
We are members of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13)
We will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5)
We have an imperishable inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

Isn’t it rather foolish and fruitless to pay for what’s already purchased – especially if, in the process of paying, we miss the most exquisite menu and most nourishing food of all?

I wonder how much life-changing, healthy food I’ve missed, and how much effort I’ve wasted because I have failed to keep God’s menu in front of me.

Now here’s the really good news. The bottom line of our sailing excursion was that we had already paid for the food; it was included in what we paid. It wasn’t really ‘free.’ But God’s food was paid for by Jesus; it’s truly free.

Take some time each day to look at God’s menu. Digest His offerings. Respond to His invitation:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

Sailing Through Life – Part 2 Proper Attire

When I’m enjoying a nice, relaxing cruise I appreciate being able to be casual – in personal interactions and clothing. It helps me relax and unwind. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t frequent the main dining room very often. To eat dinner there, guests must meet the more formal dress requirements.

I just couldn’t get excited about it. First of all, it meant we had to pack extra clothes just so we could eat ‘finer fare in a finer atmosphere.’ Second, it meant we had to change out of our comfortable casual clothes just long enough to eat. Third, it made me feel like I had to be acceptable before I was worthy of being fed. Yes – I know that’s a stretch, but it’s true! I even convinced myself it’s just not biblical – because it stipulates that I must meet certain requirements to be acceptable. I thought, “That’s totally opposite of what the New Testament teaches.”

The truth is, God has already clothed us with proper attire. Even the prophet Isaiah understood:
“The LORD makes me very happy; all that I am rejoices in my God. He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness” (Isaiah 61:10). And the New Testament repeats and amplifies this. “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. (Galatians 3:27 New Living Translation) God has taken care of the dress code by clothing us appropriately.

But as I thought about this acceptable clothing further I realized God, too, has some requirements.

• “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. (Romans 13:14 New Living Translation)
• “…and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24 Common English Bible)
• “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11 The Message)
• Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12, 14 New Living Translation)

Through Jesus, God has given us the clothes to wear. But we must put them on and wear them! Make no mistake – we are already accepted. It’s a matter of whether or not we want others to know. And we do that by wearing the clothing that reflects Jesus.

I recognized one more valuable truth as well. Even though our clothes come from God, we’re still not totally satisfied. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling…” (2 Corinthians 5:2) Why do we groan? Because we know the best and finest clothes are yet to come. We still have one more wardrobe change. Our current clothes are not to be worn forever. The Apostle Paul explained it: “And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen: Death has been swallowed up by a victory. (1Corinthians 15:54 Common English Bible)

By the way. We did, a couple of times, dress well enough to be accepted into the main dining room. I not only survived – I enjoyed it. We were treated with extra-special care and honor, the food was prepared a little more exquisitely, and the environment was extra warm and friendly.

The reality is, if I hadn’t put on the proper clothes, I would never have experienced all the ship had to offer. The fact is if I don’t put on the clothes God has provided, I will never experience all He has to offer. Proper attire is not so much a mandate as it is an offer to live in the environment of God’s richest blessings. Wearing proper attire does have its benefits!

Sailing through life

My wife and I recently went on a cruise. We not only had a wonderful time but I kept gleaning spiritual lessons about sailing through life. For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing them with you.

When our first night at sea arrived, I was struck by the darkness. As I stood on the deck all I could see, as far as I could see was a deep and total blackness that engulfed us. As I pondered this total blackness God reminded me that while I knew where we were headed, I had no idea where we were or how to get where we were going. I needed someone to lead me there – someone who’s been there before, who knows the way and knows how to get there safely. And I needed to trust them.

I then thought of some of the dark periods of my life and recalled how there was always One who knew where I was and how to get me to where I was going. He always led me there – because He’d been there before and knew the way. Each time He reminded me I needed to trust Him during the dark times of life.

The next day, as I was still pondering this renewed insight I stood on the deck and all I could see, as far as I could see, was the vastness of the ocean. No land, no other vessels – just blue, wavy water. Once again I realized that while I knew where we were headed I had no idea where we were or how to get where we were going. God was now reminding me that even in the light of day, even when I know where we’re going, I need someone to lead me there. And I need to trust them.

Then I thought of some of wonderful, beautiful times of my life – times when things went well and darkness was far removed. And I remembered that even then, in the bright light of day it was Someone Else who was piloting the ship of my life, Someone Else who was leading the way – even if I had temporarily forgotten the fact.

Then it hit me – I always know where I am going; I’m headed into the presence of my heavenly Father. But as I sail through life I’ve been reminded that it’s far easier to trust in the dark than it is in the light; it’s far easier to trust when I can’t see what lies ahead than when I can see what lies ahead. The fact is I need to trust the pilot all the time. He, after all, has been where I’m going and knows the way. I think that’s part of what Jesus meant when He said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Always – whether standing in the light or engulfed by darkness, Jesus is the way. We need to trust Him.

The following hymn says it poignantly.

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
(The Sailor’s Hymn)
Edward Hopper

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

While th’apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, Be still!
Wondrous sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
Fear not, I will pilot thee.