Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Wind and the Sail . . .

Earlier this year Mary Ann and I were blessed to be able to slip away for a few days and visit with friends in the Shaver Lake area. While we were there a friend took us out on one of the nearby lakes on his sailboat for our first time. It was an amazing experience to move across the surface of the water without a motor, simply pushed by the wind. I was fascinated to learn how attentive the "captain" has to be to the wind and its shifting and its strengthening and subsiding. When you are on the water, with a large sail above you, you can feel the boat shift and either glide or resist, speed up or slow down, depending on the angle of your sail, and the position of your rudder which is controlled by you. I'll return to this point in a moment . . .

Pearl, who writes Be Thus Minded (see "Links," above), recently turned me on to a five-part mp3 teaching by Maj. Ian Thomas on Elijah (you can find them under her "Sunday Sermons" category). I have listened to the first one and one half of them and I am already blessed and filled with revelation. I have a feeling that many posts will spring forth from the rich food of his teaching.

In the teaching Maj. Thomas talks about (and I am paraphrasing and shortening it) a father who asks his son to mow the lawn. The son, can, obviously, think of a lot of things he'd rather do. But, either from duty, or hopefully from affection and desire to honor, gets the lawnmower and mows the lawn. The question then raised is, who is mowing the lawn?

The answer is, the father. It was not the son's idea to mow the lawn. It was not the son's desire to mow the lawn. On his own the son would not have mowed the lawn. The idea, and the desire, to mow the lawn sprang in the father's heart and he is using the son (by the son's willingness) to mow the lawn. It is the father's work that is being done. It is the father's desire that is being manifested and fulfilled. That, is the Christian life—or, at least, what it should be.

I almost had to pull off the road to absorb that. It blew me away. I had never seen it that way. And it made me think of that sailboat . . . and the wind. I want to be like that sailboat, with my sail up and sensitive to the wind of God's Spirit. I don't want the wind to blow one way and I have my sail and rudder forcibly turned to oppose it. When we tacked down the lake, in to the wind, it was a lot of work. We were constantly having to work ropes, pull with all our might, jump to the other side of the boat, etc. It was fascinating to me and a rush, in a sailing context, how we could actually go in to the wind under the wind's power—but I don't ever want that to describe my life. On our way back, running with the wind, we were able to make sandwiches, relax, take pictures, and effortlessly glide along to the destination with much greater speed and efficiency than going in to the wind.

I want to be that "boat" in the Father's wind. Whether it is in my daily life, or pastoring on a Sunday, I don't want to push my own way, or resist the wind of His Spirit. I don't want to be stuck in a set number of songs for the worship, or a set time for the teaching. If the Spirit blows and we worship for hours—or if He leads and we stop during the first song and I teach for an hour and a half . . . or don't teach at all and we just pray—I don't want to fight His Spirit's leading, but to be a sail up and eager to catch His slightest breeze and let it guide me. I want to be the son who, from affection and gratitude and honor and love, hears the Father's voice and grabs the lawnmower. Why, oh why, oh why, do I so often fight that quiet voice of His, or trust my way more than His, or demand to understand what He is doing (and why He is doing it) before I will honor Him with my faith and love and obedience?


  1. Once you've been exposed to the absolute fundamentals so richly taught by Maj. Thomas, it's terribly hard to settle for just any congregation thereafter. To this day, we've not found one pastor who communicates, let alone understands, this neglected truth. Should you ever relocate to the heart of Texas, let us know! We may soon appear in the front row.

  2. WOW! What an amazing thought! To be directed by the "breath of God", as it were. If only this was before my heart and mind continually. How God directs is of Himself and we must go.
    ~ Kierstyn Voyles


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