By trimming the sails, a good sailor skillfully pulls the wind into the canvas, dominates the prevailing, opposing and shifting gusts, and maneuvers his boat forward. He or she knows their boat’s capabilities, reads maps, sets the course, watches the skies, and catches the breeze with skill and strength . Know-how, common sense, intuitiveness, and a certain knack give a proficient sailor an advantage over nature.
Life is a bit like that! Sometimes, the breezes of good fortune carry us along. Other times, we become caught in headwinds and cross winds that oppose and impede and blast us off course or threaten to do us in. We may be blindsided or overpowered by circumstantial and personal adversity over which we have little or no control. And we frantically scramble to deal with disturbing or devastating consequences of our own missteps of commission or omission. But cursing ill winds accomplishes nothing! Navigating chaos and turmoil requires tenacity, the ability to tweak things, or even make a full course correction. Adversity and misfortune focus us, help us to define or redefine, encourage persistence or realignment of our values and goals, and often force us to ponder deep questions about the meaning of our existence or whether God is at the end of our “time.”
Questioning God’s existence or distrusting His ability and goodness are universal doubts, but persistent doubt is an intellectual and spiritual no-man’s land. “…he that doubts is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6) Is there an answer to the God question? How is one to “trim the sails” so “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” ? (Ephesians 4:14)
Christ made the bold, challenging statement that he is “The Truth”, that if one has seen him one has seen God, and that he is the Way to God. (John 14:6-9) So, either God can be found, or Christ was sadly delusional! One of the great promises of Scripture is that those who seek will find. The physical universe, history, the moral Law and Scripture’s revealed principles for living, and the person and teachings of Jesus Christ direct us to God and His loving intentions and ultimate purposes for mankind.
So, steady as she goes, Mate. If asked, God will fill our sails with His offers of forgiveness, redemption, enabling, and the eternal “hope” necessary for stability and direction. He will be our Helmsman, keeping us from being blown off course as we sail toward that final horizon.