Recently there has been a palpable feeling of chaos and confusion. As I sat with the Lord one morning, He told me, “You’re just sailing into the wind”. After a little research, what I found was both surprising and encouraging. Because you can’t sail directly against the wind in a sail-powered boat, to sail into the wind you must take a zig-zag approach called “tacking” (similar to switch-backing when encountering really steep terrain). It would appear, since you’re not pointed toward your destination, that you are veering off course, but actually, these strategic pivots enable you to sail against the wind. The keel- a small part that is out of sight and below the water- is responsible for stabilizing against the winds and steering. It’s about how you position your keel and sails in the wind- not the direction of the wind- that determines your course.
During windy sailing conditions, the way you are facing can make all the difference in how you experience the weather. Sailing against the wind can have the appearance of bigger waves and stronger wind. One sailing website even noted that it’s common for inexperienced sailors to think the weather has worsened or that they have steered off course, but it’s really just an effect of the wind! Sailing into the wind requires an experienced sailor because of the extended “discomfort” and “mental wear” of maintaining course in the presence of strong winds. A sentence caught my eye: “Less experienced sailors choose to sacrifice hours and miles in exchange for a good rest”.
I heard this as a call to perseverance and an encouragement from the Lord. If you have felt like things keep veering off course only to get back on course before deviating again, this word is for you. Instead of spending your strength fighting adverse circumstances, there may be a strategic spiritual “tacking” the Lord has for you. A slight change in “angle” or approach that allows you to persevere even in the face of the storm.
The battle is in your mind. Waves and winds may appear larger and stronger when sailing into the wind, but the reality is it’s only a perception. The Lord is calling you to not let problems and distractions of the enemy intimidate you into changing your course in the name of appearances. In reality, despite how it looks, it would actually have the same wind and waves on the path of compromise as you have in perseverance, but perseverance will keep you on course. As the Lord matures and renews your mind, you won’t sacrifice direction for comfort and end up, like inexperienced sailors, costing hours and miles. “But he must ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6
So what is our keel? What keeps us on course? I find it no coincidence that the word “keel” is one letter off from the word “kneel”. When we kneel we are doing the two things that keep us sustained on course; conversation with God and surrender. “Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.” James 3:4
But what about the wind? In translating Biblical texts from the original languages, words are sometimes translated many different ways. Because of this, when I searched for “wind” in the Word, a fascinating array of passages came up. The parting of the red sea. The subsiding of the waters after the flood. Quail in the wilderness. Elijah hiding in the cave. Jesus calming the storm. The list goes on. The theme of them all being that in the end, the Lord always was greater than the wind and caused the wind- good or bad- to show His glory and power.
Stay engaged in conversation with the Lord like you are battling to stay on course- because you are. Stay in a posture of surrender because it will allow you to sail into the wind. Don’t be discouraged by appearing off course- God is helping you “tack” in rough waters. Finally, don’t try to understand the wind, try to understand the word. “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. What He’s speaking to you needs your attention and dedication- not what’s blowing against you.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts of them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house, and yet it did not fall, for it has been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25
Instead, keep your eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our sure hope. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:18.