Adjusting our Sails

Updated: Oct 18

By Javona Douglas

Facilitator: T.R.A.C. Statesboro, Georgia

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Before we are servants unto others, we are servants of Christ. Our identity lies not in what we do, but in who we are in Him. Our standing before God is based on Christ’s righteousness alone, and we are called to abide or rest in Christ’s finished work. We are called to surrender our wills to His and trust that God will be faithful to finish the good work He has started in our hearts. With this assurance, we are empowered to adjust our sails. This means resting in the leading of the Holy Spirit to complete the good works God has prepared beforehand for us. (Ephesians 2:10)

Consider a rowboat and a sailboat. Imagine the difference in navigating the two. Facing backward in relation to the direction of travel, rowers exert an immense amount of energy and strength to propel the boat forward. Rowing shells are generally unstable and tip easily. Rowers must utilize athletic skills to maintain balance with their oars. On the other hand, with keels underneath and sails above the water, sailboats are driven by the wind. Sailors are intuitive to the nature of the wind and waves and adjust their sails based on practical knowledge of navigating the seas. Even though adjusting our sails is synonymous with abiding in Christ, this does not come naturally to us.

In Deuteronomy 5:15, the Lord commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath as a reminder of how He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Although He drew the Israelites from under Pharoah’s oppression by signs, wonders, testings, and great deeds, the Israelites did not enter the promised land due to unbelief. Unbelief is not exclusive to the Israelites. We, too, are prone to defy God and His law in our hearts. Scripture informs us we are enemies with God and our minds are hostile towards Him. (Colossians 1:21) We don’t believe all He proclaims Himself to be, and in return, we say in our hearts, I am God. We desire to be the captain of our own boats because we crave the control our oars bring.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-30) When Jesus declared, “it is finished,” on the cross, He became our rest. Christ’s finished work provides peace with God, the Father, and delivers us from our need to pursue righteousness through our works, even good ones.

Life is unpredictable, and unforeseen circumstances can be very overwhelming. Our careers, culture, and communities often fall short of providing true joy, fulfillment, and security, so we continue to work tirelessly to be satisfied. Like in the Old Testament, Christ’s invitation for rest is still on the table. He summons us to abide in Him alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

Does your personal walk resemble steering a rowboat or a sailboat? What areas of unbelief in God and His character are tempting you to pick up your oars? How is He calling you to adjust your sails to the work His Spirit is doing in and through you?

Remember, before we are servants to others, we are children of God, and our heart posture before Him takes precedence.

Rest in Him.


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