Our lives and work ebb and flow. We must learn how to successfully navigate transition points and ever-changing seasons ahead. Like experienced sailors, it is possible to develop a sense of seen and unseen realms beyond and beneath us.
Merriam-Webster defines navigation as “the science of getting ships, aircraft, or spacecraft from place to place especially the method of determining position, course, and distance traveled.
Do you know your present position? Have you set a solid course — both a destination and process to arrive safely? How far along are you? How much farther do you have to go?
For the last week, God has been asking me these same questions. I believe these questions, and more important the answers, are relevant to all of us. The Christian church in general, and Christians in particular, are facing the fiercest storms yet known.
The Israelites traveled for forty years through the harsh desert. They learned to successfully navigate their unknown territory by following the Lord’s constant lead.
“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stayed, they stayed. Whether that was after a day or a year. God made His direction and timing for their lives obvious.
We don’t have a cloud and fire to lead the way, but we don’t need to blindly grope, fumbling through the maze of life, rushing when God calls us to wait. He invites us to stay on course. Do we seek some kind of supernatural sign or “handwriting on the wall” (Daniel 5:5) before we follow?
God does speak. He will make His ways and direction know.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
What comforting words, “He will guide, and He will speak. He even promises to disclose to us things to come” — approaching circumstances and seasons. We are not blindly groping and fumbling in uncertainty. We are people of clear direction and purpose.
The closer we walk in intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more tender and responsive we will become to the nudging of His wise counsel. He will give us, through the Holy Spirit, a strong sense of how to successfully navigate the stormy seas in the culture we sail.
As a prisoner, Paul was transported via ship to Rome to stand trial before Caesar’s court. The ship encountered a severe storm, risking the lives of everyone on board.
“On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.”
I wonder how they sensed approaching land. What gave clues to these seasoned mariners? What subtle shifts put them on alert? Whatever it was, this “sense” moved them into action.
“They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep.”
Their hunches were right. Immediately they dropped anchors and threw every non-essential overboard. To successfully navigate the season we find ourselves in, we too may have to slow our pace or lighten our load to keep the main things as the main things.
For over a week, God has stirred this passage on my heart. “Take soundings!” He says to me. Don’t rely on past experience or feelings, “take soundings.” Past experiences don’t always equate to wisdom. Feelings shift faster than the prairie weather — steady one moment and wild the next.
Sailors would drop a lead weight attached to a measuring line to accurately determine the depth of the seas below. Twice these sailors took soundings to verify their position and direction. They confirmed their suspicion. Land was approaching.
These sailors operated in the natural realm. We live and operate in both the natural and spiritual realms. How much more imperative that we determine our position, establish our course, and know the distance traveled to successfully navigate our times?
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Father, whether we feel the gentleness of Your Presence or are facing the greatest storms of our lives, we turn our faces to You. We welcome Your Spirit to direct us. Reveal our present position clearly. Just as clearly, show us our true destination. The ONLY WAY we will successfully navigate these seasons will be by following Your direction and directives as clearly as the ancient wilderness wanderers. May we follow at the pace of Your grace. Give us wisdom and courage to “take soundings,” acknowledging our current condition and position. Strengthen us to adjust our lives to follow Your lead completely and wholeheartedly. May we face these disturbing times with confidence, not in our own wisdom or expertise, but relying totally upon You. We welcome the Spirit of Truth to invade every aspect of our lives, and to guide us to The Truth, Jesus Christ. May our lives become lighthouses of protection for those around us. Thank You for Your absolute faithfulness toward us.