Spiritual Boat Handling
by John Owens
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Running with the current is always fun and seems the natural thing to do. It produces greater speed and avoids the resistance for an easier trip. However, when the time comes for arrival at the dock, a surprise awaits the inexperienced boat-handler. Control and maneuverability are virtually absent. In the grip of a swift current, a smash-up is often the consequence of approaching the dock in the same direction.
So is life…Running with the crowd seems the natural thing to do, and pleasures along life’s journey often take the mind off of the arrival which we all must face. A Bible proverb similarly states, “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof leads to destruction”(14:12). Also, “it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If we are ever to gain spiritual control over our naturally driven lives and reach God’s desired destination, we must chart a course of great resistance. The world will ridicule and oppose people on such a path; so, be prepared, even when the resistance comes from those nearest to us.
Our Creator clearly tells us to go against the current. Jesus says to “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it…Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14). Our Savior also said that he who would follow Him must take up his cross…that anyone who wants to save his life must lose it, but he that will lose his life for Christ’s sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25)…indeed, and arrive with great rewards!
I once thought that if I could only have my own business and wake up every morning with a beach view on a beautiful island, along with a few other things, that I would truly be happy. How many have achieved their dreams only to wake up still lonely and empty? I was one of them. And the saddest part was that everyone else around me was on the same senseless merry-go-round with no real desire or idea how to get off. I was doing what the world had taught, all the way through college plus, but the one thing no one had ever defined was "happiness".
Happiness I discovered is an emotion that rises and falls depending on one's external and perceived circumstances. It can be a powerful motivator to spend money, go places and do things - if you don't mind being the proverbial dog that is wagged by his own tail. What I lacked and really needed was something less cyclical and more satisfying. It was years before I found it.
Happiness is a relentless pursuit that ultimately burns up the fuel supply, whereas joy is a gift from above and the result of being in relationship with the true Captain of the ship. At first the thought of climbing on board such a boat seemed a bit shaky, but I had to admit that staying safely ashore had been a futile existence. After thoroughly checking out the boat-owners' manual - The Bible - I made my decision and thankfully have never looked back with any regrets.
The seas are not always smooth, but the Captain's Son is One worth knowing and He will guide you through any turbulence. What He's already been through for us is far more than anything we will ever have to endure. And the ultimate harbor is still ahead, a place that surpasses the imagination - and for a writer, that must be something!
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What a great lesson, and superb extended metaphor. Lots of great reminders in here.