Rachel & Papa

So how hard is it to steer a straight line? It’s actually much harder than you think! Our oldest granddaughter, Rachel, loves to steer, but she thinks it’s all about turning the wheel. Hang on! If Rachel is at the helm, everything is in chaos.

Navigating though is mostly about holding a steady course, however the wind and the waves and the boat itself can conspire to work against you. Sail handlers will talk for hours about the different forces that react with the sails. There is the “center of effort” and “overlaps” and “exit angles” and “aspect ratios.” Helmsmen talk about angles of attack and how to steer through a set of waves. Basically, what they are saying is, if your boat and sails aren’t balanced, you can’t steer a straight line. On an old cruising boat like Santa Teresa, with her long deep keel, if you set the sails properly, you hardly need touch the wheel at all. She’ll hold her course and you can relax and enjoy the ride.

Likewise, people need balance in their lives. Some people are experts at organization and time-management. They remind me of a well-organized hat rack. There they are, all the hats neatly arranged and on display. I can grab my daddy hat, my work hat, my husband hat, my social hat, my guy’s night out hat, and my church hat. They are all there. Unfortunately, I often have to wear several of them at the same time and that looks a bit silly.

When I was a boy, I loved my bicycle. It gave me my first taste of freedom. I could ride to school, to a friend’s house, to the movies and deliver my newspapers. I loved my bike but I also loved taking things apart to see how they worked. I remember one day I completely disassembled my bicycle on the driveway. It was beautiful: carefully arranged with all the spokes in a neat row. The frame was there. The rims and the chain were there, carefully laid out side-by-side along with the seat, the handlebars, and the pedals. It looked great but it was worthless. It couldn’t deliver papers or jump over garbage cans. I was stranded until it was all put back together.

Some people are like that too. Their lives are neat and in order but really aren’t going anywhere. To do that, the spokes need to be firmly attached to the hub. There must be a center to your life. Just like sailing, if you are not going to be constantly making course corrections, there must be balance.

So what – or better – who, is the center of your life? What holds it all together? If it’s your job, what happens when you retire? If it is a person, what happens if that person leaves? Hobbies are too transient and causes are too nebulous. Only God is a worthy center. He gives my life meaning. God advises me not just about what is right and wrong, but also about what is good, better and best. My faith isn’t just worth living for; it’s worth dying for.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6).

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