Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

  • July 19, 2011
  • #7622

Joni uses the example of sailing to share the importance of facing every trial with hope and courage.

For any of you who love to sail, I tell you, this hymn was written for you…

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life's tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass follow me:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

Well, it’s a long time since I’ve been sailing – I mean really sailing. Growing up near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, I would often go sailing with my friend Paula who docked her boat on the Severn River right near the Bay Bridge. On a Saturday afternoon, we’d pack a lunch, grab the suntan lotion, put on our visors and sunglasses and set off from the dock. Paula was the expert; she knew much more about sailing than I ever did. Hers was a small sailboat, but I knew enough to pitch in and help her with the jib sheet and the mainsail – we’d put up the mainsail, Paula would sit at the tiller in the stern and if the wind was right, we’d just glide easily down the Severn River to the Chesapeake Bay. Now because we were just kids and our sailboat was small, we wouldn’t venture far out into the bay; mainly, just skirting along the shore near the Naval Academy. Often we’d see the big white sailing vessels of the midshipmen from the Naval Academy – nothing was more lovely than to see all those white sails leaning into the wind.

I remember one summer day, the wind took us pretty far south of the Severn River and getting back north was no easy feat. It meant Paula had to tack into the wind – in other words, she’d face the breeze head-on; I’d help her change the angle of the foresail this way and that, tacking left and right while she kept a firm grip on the tiller, making our way up the bay, all the while sailing into the wind. I always thought it was so odd that if the wind was stiff (and if we got the angle just right), we were able to glide much more quickly along – I mean, you’d think that if the wind were strong against you, it would push you the other way. But an experienced sailor knows how to use a strong wind – and Paula was pretty good at it. It was hard work, tacking into the breeze, but if we wanted to get back home before sunset, tacking was the only way to do it. 

And this is a great picture for any Christian who is up against the strong winds of adversity. And James 1:2-3 are like an instruction on how to tack into that wind, because God's Word tells us to have confidence, courage and even joy, “my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Don’t you love that part about facing trials. Like a stiff hard breeze, it’s not always easy to face a tough time head-on; we’re naturally inclined to turn away, to turn our backs. But that’s not what James chapter 1 tells us to do. We are to face our adversities. And like tacking, it’ll take some skill to head into a trial but, hey, it’s a testing of your faith; a testing of your skill and confidence in Christ as your pilot. Besides, friend, if you want to get back home before sunset, it’s the only way to do it – so join me today in facing every trial with courage and joy. 

© Joni and Friends

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