“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set.”
Psalm 119:1-5 (The Message)
Cliffs and Sailboats at Pourville – Claude Monet, 1882, oil on canvas
Sailboats have always fascinated me. Perhaps it’s the sense of adventure at sailing into the wild blue unknown, or the concept of purpose and determination that one will reach their destination. But whatever the reason, my first office was heavily decorated with sailboats – I had sailboat paintings, calendars, and even a paper weight that reads, “The man who trusts in God always reaches his destination.”
I’m also a huge fan of Claude Monet, so a painting such as Cliffs and Sailboats at Pourville provides a visual fantasy that I could sit and dream about for hours on end. I especially love that this painting is done in an Impressionist style… you can see a vague outline of the image, but it’s not crystal clear. Isn’t that the way life’s journey is for us? God gives us a glimpse of the journey ahead, but He doesn’t spell out every step. And therein lies the mystery, the excitement, and the adventure of walking with the Lord!
However, just as it is for sailors, it is vital that we work hard at staying on course. This past spring I heard a sermon from a fellow seminary student who was also an officer in the United States Navy. He told about his first time on duty as a deck supervisor during the night watch. His fellow sailors tried to play a prank on him, and attempted to steer the ship to the right ever-so-slightly, with the goal of having the ship turned completely around and heading in the wrong direction before he even realized it. If he hadn’t been paying close attention, those small, gradual changes could easily have gone unnoticed, and he would have ended up humiliated. Fortunately, he was paying attention and scolded the man at the helm each time he tried to veer off course.
In our Christian walk, how easy it would be to get lost in the rhythm of life and simply allow it to carry us along without paying close attention to the way our daily choices match up with the course laid out for us in God’s Word. But if we aren’t constantly paying attention to the spiritual compass of God’s Word, then Satan can gradually and subtly veer us off course, until before we know it, we find ourselves sailing full speed ahead – away from God’s purpose, with its fulfillment and blessings.
Lord, help us to pay close attention to the path You’ve prepared for us and to work diligently at staying on course…