As a child, my son had a huge model ship, intricate in detail and design. Its majestic sails put it at over three feet tall. There was only one problem. It wouldn't float.
What a disappointment for Jonathan when, having eagerly drawn the water for his bath, he set it in the water--only to watch it sink. The boat's tall mast, supporting the sails, caused the ship to be top-heavy. As far as Jonathan was concerned, the boat was totally useless.
What good is a ship that cannot sail?
As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. We can have all the externals of religion and, from all that is obvious, appear to bear the characteristics of a Christian. We can sing spiritual songs, read the right books, take in all the teaching, and attend every service. But unless we apply what we have learned; unless we can pass the tests of life--if the ship won't sail, so to speak--it doesn't matter how good we look or how great we sound: our testimony is useless. If the wind never catches our sails; if, in our secure place of mooring, we have become content to sit idly by, we will never come to experience the freedom and fulfillment that is in Christ.
Ironically, some of the very things intended to support our walk (as the mast supports the sails), when disproportionately emphasized above our primary responsibilities--even these can throw us off balance in our relationship with God. If the devil can't get us to do something outright evil, he'll attempt to distract us with an inordinate concern for valid, even honorable activities. He knows that if he can fill our schedules with substitutes, with anything less than the best, we will fall short in our walk and perhaps be weakened enough to sin the next time. One does not have to empty a vessel, to remove its contents. It can simply be filled with something else, and the original contents, spilling over, will be displaced.
Even good things--fellowship, music, education--when they consume too much of our time or replace matters of greater importance, such as prayer or worship, can leave us drained. A tiny leak can sink a large ship. Yet, because it happens so gradually, much damage can be incurred before a change is noticed at all.
Perhaps the rabbi who passed by the injured Samaritan on the wayside was on his way to the Temple. He had passed this way many times before. He may even have been praying, as he walked, "Lord, here I am. Use me." Yet because of his spiritual insensitivity, he didn't recognize an opportunity to practice what he was going to the temple to teach--even when it stared him in the face.
In our efforts to be trained of God, it is easy to get our eyes on the process and lose sight of the goal. Neglecting one's family to attend services, for example, might seem noble at first, even spiritual. But in time it will leave its mark. God is as concerned about ministering to our loved ones as He is about preparing us for ministry. Think about it: Is it not the unsaved to whom you hope to minister?
Many in the body of Christ, secure in their place of mooring, will polish the deck and clean the rig; but they are not willing to venture out into the deep. Yet is is there, in the test of the waters, that their true sufficiency is made known. It is there that the miracle of God's grace and provision is made manifest. (Mk 4:35-37)
there is a valid time of preparation, a time of building and stabilizing. But the day comes when, if any ship is to fulfill its purpose, it must set sail, leave shore, and skim the horizons.
God wants seaworthy vessels: prepared to leave port, stem the tides, maintain a charted course, and return in full strength. He equips us to serve with a purpose. In a sense, we are to be models of Christ's character--even as that toy ship was a model, or replica, of a larger vessel. We are to be a testimony to the world of the love and grace of God. But it is not enough that they hear what we say. A ship that is seaworthy can carry others across the waters. We need to be able to help others to combat the fierce waves as they batter the storms of life, and then become "a shelter from the storm, a shade from the heat" for them. (Isaiah 25:4)
"They that go down to the sea in ships ... These see
the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." (Psa 107:23, 24) If you want to see the works of the Lord in your life, "launch out into the deep." (Lu 5:40) "They that go ... these see... His wonders" Where? "... in the deep."
Those who cling to the shoreline, to their place of security, cannot see the fullness of His power in their lives. Yes, there will be tests; the storms will come. But it is in the storm that "His wonders" are made manifest. It is there that we will see the power of God, as He speaks, "Peace, be still." (Mk 4:39)
haul in the anchor. Prepare the sails. Allow the wind of the Spirit to carry you where He wills: away from the place of your mooring. Set your eyes on the horizon.
Ships are built in harbor, but they are made to sail the seas.
Copyright © 1982, 1997 Diane S Dew in
"Essentials of Revival"
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Art" by Danny