The Wind of God and YOUR Sail of Faith
The Wind of God and The Sails of Faith
… One of the most helpful yet little known pictures we have in the New Testament is of a Ship in Full sail which is suggested by a number of passages. In Hebrews 6:1 we have this idea though it is hidden in most English translations. These give the impression that we are “press on” to maturity, whereas the word means that we are to be “borne along”, something quite different. A commentary puts it like this: “The form of this positive charge is remarkable. The thought is not primarily of personal effort, ‘let us go on, let us press’, but of personal surrender to an active influence. The power is working: we have only to yield ourselves to it. At the same time the influence and the surrender are continuous, and not (under this aspect) concentrated in one momentary crisis. The goal of this forward movement is ‘perfection’, the full maturity of spiritual growth and the teaching which corresponds with maturity.”
(This same verb occurs in Hebrews 1:3 where Christ is said to be “upholding, maintaining, guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power” (Amplified). …It occurs in 2 Peter 1:21, where we read that the prophets of old were “moved or borne along by the Holy Spirit.” The power is working, the wind is blowing, we have only to avail ourselves of it.)
So we get this picture of the Christian life as of ship in Full Sail, being borne along to its heavenly destination by the Wind of God. Should this not take the strain and tension out of our lives? GOD will carry us forward to the goal as we yield ourselves to Him. And what is our part? To hoist our sails and keep them up.
In Hebrews 10:38-39 we have a nautical word which shows the importance of keeping high the Sails of Faith “my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to loss, but of those who have faith to the gaining of the soul.” The original idea in this word is that of ‘taking in or shortening sail’ in prospect of a storm, and so it comes to mean ‘to draw in, to exercise caution or reserve.’ So Peter diplomatically drew back from his former stand in Galatians 2:12 when the situation became difficult, whereas Paul did not shrink from declaring “the whole counsel of God” to the Ephesians in Acts 20:20,27. We must learn never to shorten sail!
Our part is to keep the sails of Faith high at all times so that the wind of God can fill them and carry us forward. Sometimes the wind may really blow, but usually it will be a steady breeze. The important thing is for us to keep our sails up; God will do the rest in His own way. Even when we seem becalmed, the imperceptible movement of the sea of life will carry us forward under God’s sovereign hand. But whatever we do, we must not take in sail, we must not shrink back in unbelief. To do so can only result in spiritual loss and start drifting, perhaps on to the rocks. The way onward to our great goal, conformity to the image of God’s Son, is that of faith.
Now keeping our sails of Faith high is a matter of the will. Our sails must be set and kept in position. Here is where we often go wrong. We think that God is expecting us to produce faith, to make our own sails so to speak, whereas He provides everything, even the strength to set the sails. But He must have the co-operation of our wills, because we are moral beings. We underestimate the important part the human will, subject to Christ, plays in the Christian life. He made the Ship of our lives, and has assumed command as Captain - this is what it means to be a Christian. He has sent the Wind of His Spirit and provided even the Sails of Faith, but will not set the sails, we must co-operate with Him. Let us then take our orders from our great Captain, set our sails and maintain them high for the Wind of Heaven to fill… (T. L. Macartney)