Stay in the boat. That’s right; when the going gets rough, stay in the boat. Sometimes the occasion calls for us to stay in the boat no matter how bad or scary things seem. This is personal for me. I know I keep writing about this, but it’s where I am. The days bring with them all the ups and downs that a person could imagine and then some. We are waiting on God to direct our next steps and have committed ourselves to go only where He directs… I’ve put all my “eggs” in the “basket of God” and I have nowhere else to go, but His way. I know that sounds dramatic, but as close as I can tell, it is the truth. I say all this to make it clear that sometimes the journey gets confusing and I don’t know what to do…I get the feeling or temptation to take control of situations in my life and “make something happen.” I hear tempting voices telling me to “do something” and taunts bellowing to me that “God helps those who help themselves…” And other stuff like that. It’s enough to drive a fellow mad I say.
Since I’ve returned from my stay in New Mexico where I was attending the School for Spiritual Direction, I’ve put a few plans in motion. So far, not much has developed from them. This silence acts as fuel to the fire of my doubts. This is the place where I love to second guess myself. I feel like the best thing to do is to abandon my plans and do something else, but in my deepest heart, where I know God’s Spirit resides and guides…I know I need to keep trusting and waiting, and it is in this place that the waiting gets so hard. I look at the budget and money is tight; I begin thinking I should just search out any job to help with the finances—and I feel a check in my Spirit. I explore a potential ministry position and think, “this might be good until the right opportunity opens up…” and I sense the Spirit’s grief. I could describe at least another half dozen scenarios similar to these which describe my days over the past few weeks. It can be maddening. Just when I think I’m about to cave in or lose my mind, God directs my reading and speaks to me a word of encouragement. He did this today from the Apostle Paul’s journey to Rome from the Book of Acts 27:27-44. The particular verse that spoke the loudest to me follows:
30 Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. 31 But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. (Acts 27:30-32 NLT)
If you read this entire passage in context, you’ll find the sailors aboard this ship in very dire circumstances. They were about to die. They had run out of options to save themselves and were just about to abandon ship. The storm and the seas were literally beating them to death and they were scared…thinking they needed to do something. Paul recognized what was about to happen and told them to stay in the boat; an option that put them against the odds of surviving.
A couple of things jump out to me that encourage me from this account. The first one is the soldiers and sailors “cut away” their escape plan (the lifeboat). Once they cut the ropes to the lifeboat, and it drifted away… there was no going back from their decision. The soldiers fully committed their faith and life to the providence of God. Second, they further committed to God’s hand and plan by eating a last meal and then throwing the rest of their food overboard. Talk about all-in commitment!!! At this point you’d think that God would be pleased, there was no backing out for the ship’s crew. What happened next isn’t exactly what we’d expect from our story though; the ship ends up running aground before landfall, getting stuck on a rocky shoal, and the waves continue to bash against the ship until it is shattered and broken apart sending all two hundred seventy six travelers into the sea…(even some who could not swim!) into the stormy ocean and over rocky shoals. But, God delivered every single one of them safely to the shore; not a single passenger perished, even those who could not swim.
My situation might not be as desperate as those people aboard the ship during that storm, but I can get pretty panicked too sometime with my doubts and sense that I should do something, anything to make something happen. I know God has a plan for me and my family. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I know the Spirit in me is saying; “stay in the boat.” Against every sensibility that I might have, I need to stay in the boat. Regardless of what I see around me and no matter how terrifying the situation might look, I need to stay in the boat. Even as things unfold and as I commit to stay aboard the “Good Ship Wait,” I know that it may not be an easy ride. I might be one of the dudes that doesn’t swim well and might take on a little water in my lungs, but trusting God…He will deliver me. Okay. So the storm is raging and the word is to stay aboard. Consider me cutting the lines to the lifeboats. I’m in and I’m staying in. I believe God will deliver… I might have to do some swimming and I might have to grab a plank to ride in to the beach, but I’m in all the way to the end. Praise God.