I love the beach. I don’t love boats.
Which was a disappointment to my dad. But I get queasy on a calm lake, just uncomfortable enough so I can’t enjoy the experience of sun and breeze and water and rocking…rocking… rocking… Can you drop me off at the nearest dock?
I admire the people who love boating, though. Whether it’s on the local reservoir, motoring downriver, sailing the Intracoastal Waterway or out on the open sea, they thrive on life and creation.
Several of my friends have sailed in ocean waters. Two of them experienced stormy seas and lived to tell about it.
Their experiences are the stuff of my nightmares.
Climb a mountain of water, reach the curve at the top, then zoom down to the trough. Pick up too much speed, and you’ll dive into the base of the next wave, swamping your vessel. Then climb the next wave. I wake with a jolt as I reach the crest and stare into the abyss just before I skitter down the backside of a one hundred-foot wave.
To actually experience those gigantic waves?
Carl, who rode out a storm in the North Atlantic off the coast of Spain, spent five days maintaining the stability of the boom and the reefed mainsail. (I think I used the terms correctly.) He may not have endured my nightmare’s hundred-foot waves, but the reality of a wall of water thirty feet high towering above him was challenging enough. He had total confidence in the helmsmen, who aimed the boat directly toward the next wave hour upon hour. If it drifted off course, they would flip over.
According to Carl, the waves never broke over the boat, so all the crew had to do was ride the waves with the wind at their backs. Sure. That’s all.
Paul, however, had to deal with the tumultuous winds of a hurricane. He was nineteen at the time and looking for a fun adventure. Just sail down the Eastern Seaboard and deliver the yacht to its owner in Florida. Piece of cake and good money.
The captain gambled that they could avoid the storm, but hurricanes can turn in unexpected directions. And this one headed right for them. When Paul told me the story years later, he said “I’ve never been so scared in my life. Waves towering over us, washing over the deck. I just did whatever the captain told me to do.”
Two men. One experienced in sailing, the other with relatively new skills. Neither were masters at the helm. Especially in a storm.
They depended on the man steering the boat.
When it comes to the figurative storms of life, I don’t have the knowledge, the skill, or the strength to steer my little boat safely to calm waters either. I only want one Person in charge.
“Here, Lord, take the wheel. Tell me what to do.”
I trust Him. I don’t dare grab back control of the helm when the approach of a particularly gigantic breaker looks like absolute disaster. If I take over, we’ll hit it broadside for sure. Result: major damage or a sinking ship.
No, Jesus will steer us into the wave at the exactly correct angle. Water may pour over the bow as we slice through the crest. We’ll rush down the backside at the exactly correct speed, and if we’ve taken on water, He shows me where to bail.
Storms at sea are exhausting. They inspire fear. So do storms in life, but with Jesus steering the boat, I’ll make it through to safe haven.
Who’s steering your boat?