[This is a post by a guest blogger, a friend to the ministry, Elizabeth Schenkel and is reprinted with permission.]
When I was a growing up, my family used to spend two weeks every summer at a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan. My mother had grown up there and my grandparents lived in the “big house” in a small town close to the cottage.
At that cottage I learned to swim, canoe, fish, and sail. It was all fun, but sailing was magical. My mother knew her way around a sailboat, having raced as a youngster. She taught us one by one to sail our 14 foot long Sunfish. Eventually each of us kids graduated to sailing alone.
It was always exciting to get out on the lake and harness the wind. Exciting and a little scary! The wind was powerful at times and you had to keep your wits about you to make sure you maintained control of the little boat. I usually sailed with my older sister. We would take turns sitting in the stern, or back of the little boat, piloting the boat with the rudder. The pilot would also hold the sheet, the rope that connected to the boom, a horizontal pole that held the sail taut.
When it was time to turn to the left (port) or right (starboard), the pilot would sing out before turning the boat,
The passenger would prepare to duck under the boom and hustle over to the other side of the little boat when the pilot yelled,
“Hard-a-lee!” and with a push or pull of the rudder set everything into motion at once!
The boat would turn onto the new tack, or course, as the passenger ducked under the boom that was swinging to the other side of the boat. The passenger would find a perch on the opposite side of the boat from the billowing sail and lean back to balance the boat. The sail would fill up with the wind and off we would go in the new direction. It was magical, like a dance on the water.
All this was made possible by the power of the wind. We liked to sail on windy days. If the wind died down, we would wallow in the water with no power and no way to go anywhere. On the other hand, if there was too much wind, things could get dicey and it was time to get home! It takes practice to know how to harness the wind. You have to learn to sense the direction in which the wind is blowing, and how tightly to hold the sheet against the power of the wind.
Walking in the Spirit is a lot like sailing. When we talk about being filled with the Spirit, living a life filled with the Spirit, we often tend to think of “filled” in terms of filling a glass with water. You are either full or you are empty, or somewhere in between. We know it is important to be “full” but the illustration isn’t very dynamic, somehow.
But what if being filled with the Spirit is more like catching the wind with the sail of a sailboat? The sail is full… rounded out and taut as it captures the power of the wind. The wind propels the ship through the water. The sailor has to position the sail to catch the wind. Once positioned, having absolutely no power of its own, the boat can fly over the water. That illustration helps me think in a more dynamic way about being filled with the Spirit! It’s exciting and sometimes a little scary, like sailing. God’s Spirit is powerful. He created us to be like sails, to be full of His power and driven by His power in the direction He wants us to go.
How are things going on your little boat? Is your sail well positioned to catch the Wind of the Spirit? Are you flying across the water? Or do you need to spend more time with God to discern the direction in which He wants you to go? God wants to fill you with His power to do His will today!