Every spring the youth group at our church holds a banquet where they auction off an assortment of great prizes to fund their summer mission trips. I bought a ticket for a chance to win a sailboat excursion on Lake Michigan. I’ve never sailed before, but I love to sit on our beach and watch the sailboats gliding gracefully across the lake, their white sails billowing. It looks like such a calm, peaceful way to travel. I never imagined I would win—but I did! Last weekend, my husband, our son Benjamin, and I claimed my prize.
Lake Michigan was wonderfully calm, perfect for a first-timer like me. We set off in the afternoon with our host Bob Carlson on his sailboat named “Joy.” After a quick lesson, Benjamin served as his crew member as we navigated the channel at Port Sheldon, Michigan and sailed out into the big lake. The voyage was every bit as serene and lovely as I had imagined it would be as we headed north on a gentle wind. I began to dream of buying my own boat and learning how to sail it.
Eventually, the time came to turn around and sail home. Except that the wind had died down close to shore where we were sailing, and we came to a halt. We drifted for several minutes, unable to catch a good breeze, going nowhere. In order to get home, Bob said we needed to steer the boat farther out into the lake where the wind was stronger. I liked staying within sight of land where it seemed safe, but I also wanted to return home before nightfall. So we fired up the motor for a minute and steered out into deeper water. Sure enough, within a few minutes, our sails filled once again and we began moving swiftly toward home.
I was amazed by how a skilled sailor like Bob could “feel the wind,” as he put it, and use its power to go in whatever direction he chose. I recalled how Jesus compared the wind to the Holy Spirit, and I wondered if there were some lessons here on Lake Michigan for me. I know from experience that when I labor on my own, without the Spirit’s power, I get nowhere—just like our drifting sailboat. I also know the feeling of soaring with the Spirit’s help and accomplishing so much more than I could ever do on my own.
So why don’t I learn to “feel the wind” of the Spirt and harness its power more often? I suspect that sometimes it’s because I want to stay safe near the shore instead of venturing out into deeper, more dangerous waters. I feel more in control that way. What might God ask me to do if I surrendered control to Him? Yet with the wind’s power, we got to our destination much faster than we ever could have by rowing. And oh, what a glorious feeling it was when the wind filled our sails and we began to move! I imagine it was how Peter and the other disciples felt on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirt blew on them like a mighty, rushing wind.
The same power that changed the world is available to me. All I have to do is let it fill my sails.