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This Is Such An Ugly Place!

I had a friend who was going to take me on my first sailing boat adventure. This was a boat about 45 ‘ long I would guess. It had a motor on it to troll around the docks if need be. It had an inside cabin in which to sleep. It was very old and if truth be known, not as sea worthy as it was in 1965.

As we go to unmoor the thing ( is unmoor even a word?), the Captain said the strangest thing. He said, “This is such an ugly place!” Well, I took the bait. “Why is it an ugly place?” said I.

(I said a lot of “I” that day. “Aye, Aye Captain; Aye, Aye, Heave Ho, Aye , Aye, 10 degrees to port side, shiver me timbers!” The letter “R” was mumbled about also. (Now I know why he did not ask me out on the boat again. )

OK, where were we? Yea, the ugly place. “Well,” says he, “There be nothing as ugly as a sailing ship tied down and bobbing in the water like it is alive, yet we all know it is dead. It is only alive when it is moving on an open sea!” ( He really did not say, “There be.” Pirate talk just seemed natural at that moment.)

We had just gone through John 3:1-21 at church. The same passage we are doing now at our church. “Do not be amazed that I say to you, ‘You must be born again,'(from above, or born anew). The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from or where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3: 7-8.

So old Captain Jack was right. Then I saw the ugliness of the place, and have seen it every since, when I see boats tied up at dock.

Church can look just as ugly when filled with people who have heard and read all about sailing, ( i.e., being born-again) but never took the risk of braving miles of open water. I am not talking about an honest seeker, coming to the Lord to receive more light, like Nicodemus did. I am talking about the ones who have substituted many other things for what only the fresh and powerful wind of the Lord can provide.

It is not a matter of grit or determination that makes us new, but a surrender to the “wind” of the “Spirit” of God. Many hear about a new life in Christ, and try to engage in it, yet will not give up the controls to the Captain of their souls; the Lord Jesus Christ. They refuse to open their heart and catch the wind. A closed heart catches no wind.

The word for “wind” and the word for “Spirit” (Pneuma) in the Greek language is the exact same word! The context lets us know what kind of wind we are talking about.

All the boat preparation in the world cannot command the wind to blow. We surrender to it; i.e., we surrender to Him; to Jesus, and he causes us to be supernaturally born- again into a new and different life.

So the wind of the Spirit blows often enough, but some only sense a bit of bobbing up and down and go nowhere. As we set sail that day I was so busy getting the main sail ready, hoisting the jib, tightening the rigging, keeping the boom from hitting anybody in the head, moving the thing, then moving another thing, that I did not notice the changing. Did I know how to do all this stuff? Of course not! He would gently correct all my mistakes and was having fun watching me move about. I was exhausted. He knew what was about to happen. It was not my prep work, it would be the wind that lifted thousands of pounds of boat out across the water.

“Your last job,” said he. “Yes, and what is that Captain Bligh?” “Look at the shadow of the boat on the water! We are sailing!” All those mechanical things I was required to do prepared us to move. But like a great ax handle with no ax head, we had no power to change anything, without the invisible, refreshing wind.

My job was to get the sails open; the wind did the rest. The wind I do not control. The wind that is invisible and can drastically change a static situation! How beautiful!

I cannot express what that felt like. This big boat was running tight sail with a slight wind pushing us silently through the water at about 12 knots. How could this be?

The Captain said, “She is alive now, but we can’t see why. How beautiful she is now, only because she opened her arms to embrace the invisible wind!” JWP 8/15/2020

“If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Some day, please God, it will be. The same is true of many other behaviors which now appear as duties. If I love my neighbor as myself, most of the actions which are now my moral duty would flow out of me as spontaneously as a song from a lark or fragrance from a flower.” C.S. Lewis “Letters To Malcolm”

Jim Petty in Post on August 21 2020 » 0 comments

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