Sailboats are great things. But, all sailboats have one important traits. They rely on the wind to fill their sails. No matter the quality of the materials used to build it, or the expertise of the crew, if there is no wind, then a sailboat will not perform it’s designed purpose. If the wind is blowing against a sailboat, then the crew can attempt to tack against it and make some ground; but if the wind is perfectly still then the boat will not move aside from with the ebb and flow of the tide. The crew can break out the oars and begin rowing, but the labor of doing so causes them to become quickly exhausted, and often yields little return. At the same time, however, the vessel must have sails, and they must be set right by a crew that understands what they are doing. If the sails are not set then even in a gale, they will move only with the tide, not by the power of the wind that the Lord has given them.
This is the perfect image of our faith. The boat and the crew are us and our efforts on the earth. The wind is the grace of the Holy Spirit moving us. Regardless of how much effort we put into anything, then it will yield little to no result unless the Holy Spirit move us. If we are seeking to move against the wind (the Holy Spirit), then we may be able to make a small amount of progress, but it will be to little or no avail. And, without reliance on the Holy Spirit, we may try to use our oars to row ourselves along, but we will never be able to come close to fulfilling our designed purpose. It is through the grace of the Lord only that we are able to accomplish what we were designed to accomplish. Never through our own efforts will we be able to achieve those aspirations. No, without the grace of the Holy Spirit filling our sails, we will often be left to float around lost, left to the mercy of the ebb and flow of the tides of our world.
On the other hand, we, like the crew aboard the vessel, must be able to set the sails properly. We must exert the work of hoisting the sails, of steering the ship, lest we lead ourselves to shipwreck. We must learn to capture the power of that grace in our lives; and we do that through prayer, through the teachings of the church, through reading the Scriptures. We would never attempt to take a sailboat into the ocean alone, neither would we do so without first reading various books on how to do it, having those teachers that we could turn to to answer questions that we have about it. If we don’t understand a nautical term, we ask someone who has that knowledge so that we can grow in our understanding of it; so too must we do spiritually.
The sailboat alone can not move, it must have the power of the wind to fulfill it’s purpose. However, the power of the wind alone will not do it, there must be the boat. And the presence of the boat alone will not do it, there must be a crew that is dedicated to fulfilling it’s purposes. It’s the synergy of the boat, the crew, and the wind working together that allows the journey to be perfected. So it is in our Faith. It is not by our own efforts that we can ever be saved. Neither can it be by our faith alone; nor by our works alone. It must be our faith in the Lord working in synergy with the grace of God in our lives to lead us to perform works which are worthy of bearing the name of Christ. Jesus tells us that, “Whoever believes in Me, the works that I do will he also do.” (John 14:12), and how will we perform these works? He tells us that He will send a Helper (the Holy Spirit; John 14:17-18).
My brothers and sisters, allow us all to stand within the boat, to attain the knowledge and discipline to hoist the sails, to put forth the effort to properly command our lives; looking to the teachers that the Lord has given us to guide us on our journey; and never ceasing to look to God for the ability to perfect our purpose, our calling, as His children.
Christ is in our midst.