Against the Wind

I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean. One of our stops was on the island of Haiti. We took a tour by launch of some of the northern coastline. As our guide explained some of the history of the island, we could see a number of fishing vessels out on the water. Some of the boats, or lateens, were being driven by the wind. Their sails were curious combinations of bedsheets and other materials sewn together. The guide explained that these boats had no motors. If the wind was blowing in the right direction the fishermen could let the sails do all the work. Otherwise they had to row—sometimes from several miles out against the wind and the waves!

As I read Psalm 53 this morning these fishing boats came to mind. The psalm begins with this declaration: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (53:1). The psalmist then goes on to describe the difficulty of denying God and ends with a note of triumph on behalf of those who believe and will ultimately see God work on their behalf (53:6). He encourages those who trust in God to rejoice because they can count on this victory to be theirs.

Like the fishermen in their lateens the unbeliever can sail along for a while propelled by his own ragged will. But eventually he will discover that without a motor, life becomes exceptionally difficult. It's a long, long row back to shore—in fact, there is no possibility of reaching an eternal safe harbour without the motor, without this God that he has denied.

The psalmist writes: "God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God" (53:2). His conclusion is (vs. 3) that there isn't even one. This is the same conclusion Isaiah comes to in Isaiah 53:6: "We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way..." as well as the same conclusion Paul reached: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God" (Romans 3:10, 11).

While this truth applies to the unbeliever, it unfortunately continues to stick to believers as well. Even sheep with a Shepherd like Jesus, often stray. Even fishermen with motors like God, decide to trust their own tattered sails or worse yet, try to row the boat in their own strength.

So I asked myself this morning if I am acting more like the fool who denies God or am I truly seeking Him as the One who guides and powers the boat of my life.  How much am I still trusting my "bedsheets" or my own ability to get me where only He can take me? I suspect these are questions that all of us need to ask ourselves from time to time.

And God look to see what our answer is to the question. Get the motor started and let it do the work.


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