I was revisited today by an illustration I heard years ago about a ship and a train.
My pastor was sharing about living by faith, and illustrated his thought by contrasting the experience of traveling somewhere on a ship versus on a train.
As most of us have discovered, when you’re on a train the feeling underneath your feet is very certain, secure, predictable, and reassuring. You can sense that you are clearly moving forward in the direction you are intending to go. There is no back and forth, or side to side–just forward.
However, when you are traveling by boat, your experience couldn’t be any different than that of a train. The feeling underneath your feet is unpredictable, uncertain, and even anxiety-producing at times. Furthermore, there is just water! There are no indestructible steel train tracks, no visible markings indicating that you are connected or harnessed to something stable.
Rather, you are swaying side to side with every ebb and flow of the ocean waves, and unpredictable gusts of the wind. Before technology, the captain of a ship charted his way by the stars, whereas the conductor of the train has the visible, immovable train tracks guiding his way–no room for guessing or intimating, the path is clear and the destination is guaranteed.
How often in life do we crave the safety and predictability of those train tracks? The feeling underneath our feet (or our hearts) that everything is moving forward exactly on time and as planned. How much easier is it to find our security in the conductor, the train, and the strong steel tracks?
However, the life of faith the Pastor spoke of that day, oftentimes looks like a an invitation from the God of the universe to climb aboard a ship, and trust Him to chart our way.
The destination is just as secure, the captain is just as capable, but the feeling underneath our feet is so unsteady that we are drawn and challenged (ok, forced) to find our confidence, security, and dependence in something aside from the ship, the waves, and the earthly captain.
God loves to invite us on a journey to find our security and dependence in Him. Therefore, He slowly but surely removes the things we would lean on to feel safe. In the moment, the process can seem cruel, but a little farther on we discover it was actually God’s mercy toward us.
So, if you feel like your on a ship, not sure if your headed in the right direction, swaying side to side, and clinging to the hopeful confidence that God is charting your path, than you are in good company.
If you read Hebrews 11, you see many people of faith that lived the ship life, so to speak. Abraham went out on a promise not knowing where he was headed, Noah built a ship for a world that had never seen rain, and Sarah was planning for a promised child at 100 years old. But all these names can be found listed in scripture as renown heroes of faith.
I’m learning that a life of faith in Christ is the most steady thing I could ever rely on–more solid, secure, and stable than any train or steel train tracks. So, as scary as it may be, board the ship, and trust in the captain of your soul to show Himself faithful, and bring you safely to shore.
“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.” Psalm 77:19-20