Navigating Uncharted Waters
When I think about ships navigating uncharted waters, my mind goes to the Titanic and the characters on the boat from Gilligan’s Island. (I guess that shows how twisted my mind can be.) On the surface, the passengers and crews on these boats don’t seem to have much in common; but trust me, they have more in common than what one might think:
- On both boats, the passengers and crew had a destination in mind.
- Though everyone came from different backgrounds, they had common goals. In this case, to go on an oceanic adventure; and to have this experience with those they love.
- Both encountered unexpected trouble: one, an iceberg; the other, a horrific storm.
- Everyone involved had their lives permanently change.
In life, just like if we were at sea, we set a course – whether intentionally or as an outcome of our lifestyles. We all have a destination in mind. How we define that destination may be different; yet, we all want to end up on the island of success where we are loved, accepted, and valued. Unfortunately, on our life’s voyage we encounter problems way more intense than we could ever imagine. In the beginning we see just the “tip of the iceberg” of what lies ahead. And if that isn’t enough, we also have to battle storms that can bring winds of hurricane force.
During these times we may feel like we are the “true captains” of our vessels – able to traverse the icy waters, only to have our emotional hulls ripped apart by what is hiding under the surface. Or maybe we feel like the character Gilligan, always trying, always messing up, always having to deal with a “Skipper” who is quick to declare to us, and the world, all our flaws. And what is worse yet, we may feel like our ship has already sunk! We may feel like we are drowning in the icy waters of defeat; or that we are stranded on an island of despair with no chance of rescue.
During my time of ministry at Teen Challenge I have seen many lives, many families shipwrecked: drowning in seas of fear, hurt, anger, and utter despair. I have also seen precious ones stranded on isolated islands of addiction and abuse. It has been grievous to see many unsuspecting souls sail off on courses that ultimately led them to total death and destruction. So where does their help come from? How do they, how do we, navigate the stormy waters of life? The answer is going to sound so simple that we will wonder why we just didn’t do it immediately. What is the answer? CHANGE CAPTAINS!
Unfortunately, changing Captains is easier said than done! We say we want the Lord to “take the helm”, but we have an awful time stepping aside. There are even times we seek spiritual guidance, only to have some well-meaning shipmate tell us to just “leave it at the altar sister”; or “just pray it through brother”. Or worse yet, we can come away feeling like we had been key-hulled by someone’s scathingly judgmental remarks. Since others’ advice didn’t work, we then decide to “self-help” ourselves. We read all the material we can get our hands on and put ourselves on regimens that make us feel like we are doomed to “walking the plank” on a daily basis. ENOUGH!
Yes, we need structure. Yes, we need to hear the truth about our situations – even if the truth is hard to hear. Yes, prayer is the answer. BUT, true success is found in one word: SURRENDER.
True surrender is the key to changing captains and to ultimately changing our situations. It is the key to having success in our Christian walk. But there are times I feel like the little kid who got in trouble while playing on the playground. He was told to go sit on the bench. He said, “No!” The teacher led him to the bench, where he crossed his arms and defiantly stood in front of it. He was told to sit down: “No!” The teacher sat him down and would not let him get up. His response to the situation? With arms still crossed, he declared,“I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!” I hate to admit it, but I have been that way with God. There have been times I have “looked” like I was truly surrendered, but on the inside I was defiantly holding onto things God told me to surrender over to Him! So, how do we surrender?
The simple definition of surrender is to give over control. We must get to the point in our lives where we say “not my will but Thine be done” in ALL areas of our lives. This means that we ask God to take control of our present; direct our future and heal us from anything from our pasts. We ask God to show us His will; His truth; and to help us see others and other situations through His eyes. If we are truly surrendered, we hold nothing back, absolutely nothing. And if we do this, what are the results? He will lead us; He will give us wisdom; and show us His way. I love the promise in Proverbs 3:5&6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATHS.
I have a feeling that if I give God total control, never taking back the helm, I will reach my intended destinations in this life and will ultimately sail safely into God’s eternal harbor.