I'm a little sailboat


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Lord, make me a sailboat. It’s a prayer that I prayed at the end of the dock one early morning at the lake. For days I’d watched motorboats and jet skis cut swiftly through the water, rushing by and making waves, rumbling as they revved their engines. There was something thrilling to them as I watched, as I marveled at their speed and power and panache. I’d be sitting motionless in my chair, or otherwise bobbing gently in the water with my humble foam noodle, feeling my neck turn to follow the source of the newly formed wake.


But then there were the sailboats. The sailboats were silent and sleek, their grand sails made taut by the wind, their hulls tipping slightly as the water carried them noiselessly by. I watched them with greater fascination than I did their commanding counterparts, with a certain respect and admiration. Their occupants worked hard to test the wind, to unfurl sails, to tie their lines in complex knots. And that got me thinking.


I want to be a sailboat. Not a motorboat. I want to yield to the winds, the waves, the strength of God. The whisperings of the Holy Spirit. I want to be free to follow His movements, to open my arms and be led. To work with the gentle flow of His grace. He gives us the freedom to override those currents He sends, but no—I want to be taken by them.


There’s a simple exchange in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that has come to mind in the midst of these watery wonderings of mine. Apprehensive Susan, seeking to ascertain Aslan’s nature, asks Mr. Beaver, “Is he—quite safe?” And then comes the reply, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” I’ve taken these words to heart. Our God is not safe, but He is good. There’s a pronounced risk in leaving the shore in a simple boat subject to unpredictable winds. And there’s a comforting safety about having control, about sitting in the driver’s seat, foot to the gas pedal, ready to power through the waves ahead, come what may. I want the former, I know. I’m made for it. But so often I opt for the safer choice.


I think about life as a spiritual sailboat. It does require risk, yes. It requires preparation and cooperation and patience. There’s a slowness, a simplicity to it. It’s not particularly impressive, nor does it garner attention. But I desire the true freedom of being held gently and tenderly by God. I desire to tune my ears and my heart to listen and receive. To set my course in response to another, not heedlessly.


So, Lord, please make me a sailboat. Take away my motor, slow me down. Grant me courage in the face of danger and preserve me in the storms. And give me the joy of facing my sails to the winds of Your grace, ready to be carried home.


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