I shared this story at church last July after a trip to my parents house in Virginia. We were fortunate to visit Mom and Dad for Spring Break and I thought it would be fun to share here.
Our family went to Virginia a few weeks ago to visit my parents who live on the Chesapeake Bay. There is a deep water canal leading from their backyard out into the bay itself. Dad has two boats, a fishing boat and a sailboat. (The picture above is my Dad. You can see his sailboat just past him with the blue sail cover.)
Last year Dad and I went out on the sailboat. Sailboats are a thing of beauty as they fly before the wind. But on that particular day, the winds died down to almost nothing. All the sails were out and although they appeared to be full of air, the boat was crawling through the water. After studying three little scrub trees off in the distance. I determined that we were not actually getting anywhere. I complained, “Dad, you know we are not moving. I’ve been watching those trees.” Dad laughed and tried to tell me that all of the trees looked alike. I assured him that I had been staring at the one with the crooked branch for fifteen minutes. We were not moving. After about five more minutes of determined watching, Dad agreed and started the motor that is usually used for powering the boat in the canal.
This year, Dad and I wandered down to his dock to look at the boats. I was kidding him about the speediness of his sailboat. He laughed,”Funny story... Last week, I took the sailboat out by myself. It was a great day and my boat was definitely moving. I stayed out longer than I intended and I had to hurry to go call Bingo. (Can you tell my Dad is retired?) He continued: “When I came back in, I swung the boat out to the far side of the canal like I usually do, then turned it into my dock. I stepped off the boat to tie it up and the boat just - kept - going. As I stood there watching my boat heading off into the sunset, I realized that I’d forgotten to turn off the motor. There I was on the dock and the boat was motoring away.”
I interrupted him - “Did you chase it with your other boat?”
“Nah, as I watched, the boat swung around in a great big circle and came right back to the dock. The rudder had pretty much stayed in the same position and it steered the boat neatly back to me.”
Life is a voyage. Somedays the seas are calm and the winds are fair. At other times, the waves and the winds are perilous and we are out of our depth.
There are also times when we are the prodigal child wandering far from home. It’s not enough to know that we need to go back to the Father, we must actually return to Him. God has provided us with His Word as a spiritual rudder to guide us back.
Rend your heart not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate. Joel 2:13
And for the sailors,
Men went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
His wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
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