I love sailing, every aspect. While I am a fan of power anything, GPS navigation, and automated pilot steering for those long voyages, I also love the mechanical. Perhaps it is my inability to master most of the disciplines; whatever the reason I love the process of piloting the boat, trimming the sails, charting one’s course after taking one’s position with a sextant. The process end to end is a great exercise in knowing how one is getting from point A to B.
Knowledge isn’t always a pretty experience. I vividly remember a dark summer’s night on San Francisco Bay where the currents and wind directly worked against us in getting to the docks which were in sight the whole time. In the end we spent over five hours of hard sailing to move less than a half mile in distance. In between we almost got hit by a party boat running without any lights (gap measured in inches not feet), squeezed in the middle of a tug boat and a very large barge it was towing, again without proper lighting, and the debilitating touch of a dense summer fog.
Life does not normally treat us much different. Even when we know where we are going things are difficult. Directions can be confusing. Signals are often hazy. Mountains of pain, suffering, and set-backs can cause significant changes in the course we take. Even when we can see the goal it is easy to lose faith. Relationships may not stand the tests, support structures can crumble, and we can fail ourselves.
In the midst of this there is a constant. Far too often, “mad with pain, men and women bit and chewed their tongues, cursed the God of Heaven for their torment and sores, and refused to repent and change their ways.” (Revelation 16.11) Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the testimony of others who have charted the course and gone the distance. On a good day the end is within sight, patience and staying the course is key with God as captain.