Has Anyone Seen My Tailwind?

sailing-boat-931515_640There are days when it feels as though I can see heaven from my kitchen window. The goal is in sight, my mission is clear, and Jesus’ voice is as real to me as the ringing phone or the morning alarm.

Then, there are days when I feel like a castaway from the shipwreck of the S.S. Salvation, lying listless and spent on a wooden door that used to lead somewhere, watching sharks circle, blinking at a relentless sky,  my ambition as parched as my cracked and sunburned lips.

Perhaps I’m being a tad dramatic.

I just thought at some point, things would be different, you know? I thought that as I grew older, grew up, matured, there would come a day when I could set my faith on cruise control. I thought I’d hit my stride and wake up every day knowing exactly what to do and how to be.

That ain’t happening.

And it’s not about employing spiritual discipline, devotions, fasting, tithing, praying, Bible reading, sacrificial living, or any other spiritual calisthenics all of you solution savvy readers are about to prescribe. I am there. I do that. I pray that. I read that. I study that. I give that. I live that. I’ve been to the mountain, baby, and I’ve seen the dazzling white.

Still, there are days that come when I’m belly up on that raft wondering how I’ll ever make it to shore, trying to remember if that’s even the goal. Have you been there? Have you drifted on that door? I know I’m not all alone.

The disciples sailed in these waters. Luke 9 is an adventure in the ebb and flow of faith. At the start, Jesus arms the twelve with power and authority over all demons and diseases, then sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. Hoo, doggie. That’s heady stuff. Chosen. Empowered. Sent. Wow.

When they return, they withdraw with Him to Bethsaida and a huge crowd gathers. Jesus suggests they feed the crowd, but they don’t respond like miracle men. The whole loaves and fishes idea is His. The disciples, fresh off their deliverance and faith-healing tour, are checking the budget and worrying about cash flow.

In the next moment, they probably felt frustrated and confused because Jesus starts asking them who they think He is and talking with them about denying themselves and losing their lives. Things feel really serious all of a sudden, ominous, like there’s suffering ahead and they’re nostalgic for yesterday’s signs and wonders.

But suddenly, Peter, John, and James are witness to Jesus miraculously altered, dazzling white, speaking with Moses and Elijah who appear out of nowhere – like real. So real, they want to build shelters for them. The passage said the disciples had been sleeping but suddenly they were fully awake. I’ll bet! As if that wasn’t enough, they hear the voice of God from the clouds announce Jesus as His Son, His Chosen One. No wondering who they’re following now. No doubt. All glory. Glory, glory, Hallelujah, baby! Wow. Wow. Oh, wow. This is so real and so clear and so much about Jesus.

Until the next day.

Coming down the mountain they run into a dissatisfied customer complaining that the disciples can’t cast the demon out of his son and Jesus seems frustrated. They’re not sure why. Then His mood darkens and He starts talking about dying and the disciples don’t understand but they already feel like failures for not delivering that kid from a demon so they’re afraid to mention that what He just said totally confused them.

So, in a shining moment of ultimate spirituality, they start arguing about which of them is the greatest! How fleshly and human can a disciple get? Worse yet, when a village of Samaritans rejects Jesus, the disciples offer to call down fire from heaven to consume the lot of them! And those are only the stories from ONE chapter of ONE gospel.

God is unchanging. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But me, I’m as moody and changeable as the weather in New England. Sometimes I get sick of myself. Sometimes I wonder how God can stand me. Often I imagine I’m really close to being cut from the team. But then I remember the disciples and their long walk with Jesus.

He’s been here. He knows what we’re made of. He knows what we’re up against. He is undeterred from our bad days and not as impressed with our good ones as we are. He knows it’s a long trip from the ground to glory and He has promised not to leave us – ever.

On days when I wake up and find myself on the raft, I’ve learned not to panic. If prayers seem empty and scripture like stale bread, I pray anyway. I flip to the Psalms and remember that every follower has feelings. Sometimes it’s a sign I need a rest or a break or refreshment. Sometimessail-1238055_640 it’s a sign of illness or a need to confess. Other times, I don’t see a reason for it at all except maybe it’s a test of faith, something to wait out or paddle through.

The truth remains that God has chosen to work with us faulted, fallen humans – so obviously in need of forgiveness and grace – to build His kingdom on earth and I am not rejected. No matter how I feel – I am chosen, called, and sent.

How about you? Do you have days adrift? Do you lose sight of shore? What’s your cure – how do you find your tailwind?

Does your small group or church group care about spiritual growth? My next book, Jesus and the Beanstalk, releasing in September is devoted to that topic and explores 2 Peter 1:1-10. I’d LOVE to come and speak with your group about spiritual maturity and my talk, Jesus and the Beanstalk, is perfect for most groups. Check it out, along with some of my other topics, and contact me to talk about dates.

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    The Conversation

  1. Bruce says:

    Ha. I love the paragraph about spiritual disciplines and Christians fixing me/us!

  2. Melanie Gibson says:

    I used to be part of the crew on a big ocean-going sailing vessel. In between the glorious days of sailing along with a brisk wind filling the sails underneath a blue sky and utterly terrifying but adrenaline-charged days of going through heavy gales, there were plenty of times of boring calmness with no wind that felt like nothing at all was happening. What I learned from that experience is that it is still important to be patient and do the best you can to get along with everyone else, because that wind will come back and there was no way to know what it might bring. Now that it’s many years later and the closest I get to sailboats is seeing them in the harbor, I need posts like this to remind me that even though I feel becalmed and like I am just drifting sometimes I still need to try to do my best to be grateful and patient while I wait for God to do something, because He will. I just need to stay in touch with Him and try to be aware. Often I think He is forcing me to take it easy on myself and rest by keeping things calm, because He knows what is better for me than I do.

  3. p. says:

    It IS “a long trip from the ground to glory”! Especially when you’re drifting “belly up.” And I am. Too.

    Thank you, Lori, for sharing life – real life – with us, and keeping us ever mindful of the Lord’s faithfulness and loving kindnesses. I hope we can do the same for you sometime[s].