I'm sitting looking out at a boat, it is a beautiful little sailing boat, white, with a raised cabin with three fine portholes. There's a problem with it however; there is nobody at the helm. It is bobbing up and down in the swell of the sea and the waves, the wind is choosing which way it points, but it is okay, well sort of okay; it is not in danger, it is firmly attached to a buoy.
But why only 'sort of okay' you might ask? Well it occurs to me that the purpose of that sailing boat is just that; to sail. While it is attached to the buoy it goes nowhere, its safe yes, but when comes to achieving its purpose it just ain't making it!
So what is the solution? Well it needs a skipper of course, someone to raise the sails, to take the helm, set a course and sail. To give it direction, to give it a heading that isn't simply determined by the prevailing wind of the day and, most importantly, to help it to travel in that direction.
And so it is with our journey of faith, in fact for our journey through life itself. For those of us who have chosen a life of faith in Jesus Christ we have the promise he gave us of the Holy Spirit to be with us through that journey. Returning to our sailboat, the question is do we treat that promise of the Holy Spirit as a skipper or a buoy?
As a buoy the Holy Spirit is indeed with us a Jesus promised, He can keep us safe and out of troublesome waters, but what about our destination? If the buoy is good and sturdy then the destination is where you started, if the buoy drifts then the destination is really nowhere in particular, it is purely the place where conditions, and circumstances, take you.
As a skipper we are choosing to make a journey, a purposeful journey with a route, a heading and a destination. If you've ever sailed you'll probably know that the skipper can't always guarantee the destination but the heading can be chosen to aim for it and a journey of some sort is a definite! The capability of the boat, the time and the conditions are all factors in the choice of destination so we don't make it alone but between ourselves and the skipper we can chart a course that makes good each of our and their aspirations for the journey and destination. There is much more that can be said in sailing terms for that analogy but that can wait for another time... The question for now is which is our choice in our lives for the Holy Spirit is it as a buoy or as a skipper? Are we sitting down with Him to chart a route, to discuss a destination and what it might take to get there? Or are we simply looking for him to hold us fast, to keep us as close as possible to where we are now and just be with us as we drift with the prevailing wind and tide?
'But sometimes' you might say 'we need a buoy' and indeed we do, but only sometimes; the boat in the bay - it was made for sailing.
P.s. As I write this another boat goes past, a huge boat, it indeed has direction and purpose, there is no shortage of people to take watches at the helm, but as a huge cruise boat there is also no shortage of passengers! Um that is another story....