I am not what you would call a sailing enthusiast. I have been sailing and generally enjoyed it, but have never learned to do it myself. A couple of weeks ago, while watching football, I happened to flip over to another channel that was showing the America’s cup sailing competition taking place in San Francisco bay between Team New Zealand and Team USA. I was hooked! Could hardly change the channel. Here were these huge 90 ft long catamaran’s fighting for position, trying to catch and keep the winds, and these highly trained teams of people, each with an important role and task to play being hyper vigilant to do exactly what the captain tells them to do. It was thrilling to watch!
What struck me though was that as much as this was a team competition, the decision making really all came down to one person, the captain. And in the case of these two boats, the captain was also the helmsman…the one steering the boat and calling all the shots. These men have trained for years for this, really their whole life. They have been diligent and vigilant in learning their craft. They have been financed and resources with the most state of the art sailing and research equipment their is. There is huge pressure and expectations on them to perform at the top of their abilities if they are to have a chance to win. And to not have that kind of focus not only means they may lose, but could possibly result in a shipwreck if they are not careful and intentional in all they do.
When you think about it, this is a lot like our own lives. We have been given these exceptional bodies, minds, and abilities. We have people all around us, looking to us for influence and leadership, and we, at least as believers, have the very Spirit of God living within us to help guides us to being and living what God has intended for us. But I am struck by Paul admonition to Timothy about his faith in which he writes to him and says, “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”
Timothy had all the right resources, but in the end, Timothy had to chose to hold onto “faith and a good conscience” if he was going to avoid shipwrecking his soul. Too often, many of us put those things as secondary and then wake up one morning and wonder what happened to the passion, joy, and purpose in life. It is because we often forget to hold onto those things that prevent us from shipwrecking our faith.