Monday, August 11, 2008

Set of the Sails -- Hope Chronicles 61

It was the summer of 1990. I had just finished my junior year in college and had spent much of the year saving for InterVarsity's School of Leadership Training. It was a four week leadership camp situated at Cedar Campus right on Michigan's Lake Huron.

The schedule was full from getting up at 7:15 for an 8:00 breakfast to lights out at 11:00. We had daily topics on things like evangelism, exposition training, conflict, studying scripture, and analyzing the culture we lived in so we could be more effective leaders. In the afternoon, we had an hours worth of work entitled camp stewardship where we washed windows, hauled wood, swept, cleaned, painted, and whatever else needed doing.

And then we had free time which was taken up by rounds and rounds of volley ball and instructions on sailing. This is a much younger me with another gal, Beth, in my family group.

We had endured the frigid water for the swim test and were determined to learn to sail the little two person Sunfish. Though we understood the importance of wind on an intellectual basis, we discovered that once we had rigged the boat and gotten to the middle of Prentiss Bay, we often prayed for the wind to cease. There was something frightening about the way the boat tilted when it got to moving fast.

But still we learned the basics. We learned how right a tipped boat and again learned the bone chilling temperature of the water. We learned to tack back and forth to catch the wind when trying to go against the wind. We learned to loosen the sail to slow the pace and what it meant to be in "irons." We learned to take in the sail to pick up the pace and that sometimes a little wind is just enough to get you where you want to go.

I was reminded of all of this upon coming across this poem Ella Wheeler Cox on the Internet:

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails
and not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

I am still a novice in sailing and after so many years I would be hard pressed to rig the sails, but I think this is so true. One boat would be caught in irons, unable to catch the wind. Another boat would zip about because of the set of the sails.

We all have struggles in life. Sometimes things are easier than others. But it isn't the storm or the sun that makes or breaks us. Yes, the storms can wear at our resolve, but it is where our mind and heart is set that makes the difference. Is my mind set on my circumstances or is my mind set on the hope I have in Jesus? Yes, I may struggle, but if my heart and hope are in my savior, no matter the waves around me I will be safe in God's arms.

Isaiah 43:2 puts it this way:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

There is no promise for a life without struggle. But there is hope in knowing that God has promised his presence.

Will you set your sails on the hope we have in Jesus today?



Anonymous said...

Oh goodness Amy,
I love those pictures... to be reminded of that place where God met me so profoundly the summer of 1996 at my SLT experience...

Isn't it amazing how God uses places, people and "simple" things like sailing to teach us about himself and about life with or without him?

God bless,
and thanks for your comment over on my blog...

Heather@Mommymonk said...

What a fun experience to look back upon. I like the way you've applied it to hope!

cautious1 said...

Sometimes I find myself focusing more intently on God during those times that I am struggling. I need to remember that my focus needs to be completely on God whether I am in the midst of a storm or whether I am in a place of calmness and peace. Thanks for your insightful words.