Everywhere I’ve lived as an adult, I’ve tried to enjoy the culture and worked to educate myself on the community that I lived in at that time. I’ve looked for local history markers, embraced the local sports teams, and tried to learn how people think in that area. When we were starting a church in New Hampshire, we got ice skates so we could skate in the parking lot of the town post office when they flooded a portion of it and made an ice skating rink. We enrolled our kids in skiing lessons and for six weeks every winter on Friday afternoon, all 7 Greens could be found swooshing down a mountain near Mount Washington. Since I’ve been in Maryland, we’ve taken in the sights, enjoyed the inner harbor on a number of occasions, found the Rocks State Park and I’ve perched myself on the King and Queen seat (but I soon come down as I can tell I make Cheryl nervous hanging out up there). One day in the inner harbor, I saw a number of sailboats and I thought to myself that day I’d like to learn how to sail. I did some checking and found a great sailing school in Havre de Grace. On my vacation last week, I took our daughter Beth and we learned how to sail a 22 foot sailboat. Honestly, I had a ball being on that boat with Beth for 3 days along with our instructor and two other folks learning with us.
I thought about some spiritual applications from that experience of learning to sail. First of all, you can’t just go down to the dock, jump on a sailboat and go. I had to be trained and equipped to do this. I took advantage of a school and the training it offered me to learn this sport. I was excited about getting trained because I wanted to sail. I wondered why more people don’t take advantage of the training classes offered at Calvary to help them be better equipped disciples of Jesus Christ. Could it be we’ve lost our excitement about being disciples? Let me encourage you this fall to sign up for one of our discipleship training classes we’ll offer on Wednesday evenings after worship. You’ll see more about these class topics soon but let me encourage you to take advantage of this training.
I also learned that sailing takes planning ahead and constantly being on the lookout for dangerous situations that can develop quickly. Life is like that also as Satan is constantly laying traps for you but God has given you a manual and an instructor to guide you through life in the Bible and His own Holy Spirit. He’s offered you the safety and security of a church family to help guide you. All of us on that boat were alert and pointed out danger as we saw it as we were all quite literally “in the same boat”. We studied the manual, learned “the rules of the road” for safe boating and how to get out of the way of trouble when it was looming. We started our day in class before heading out on the water to sail. I must spend time in the Bible each morning before I head out as it shows me principles needed to navigate away from the snares of the devil.
I learned it takes a team of at least two people to operate that sailboat but there was the support of the marina crew we needed. We witnessed a number of boats come to the aid of a little Hobie Cat that overturned. People rearranged their plans to get involved for a pressing need. It takes lots of people to serve in the ministries of Calvary. Many of you have said you’ll serve in some way and we’re thankful for that. Some are still considering it but let me encourage you to get involved. If you’re not yet a member, let me encourage you to commit to joining Calvary and get to work with us as there is a pressing need to reach our community for Christ.
To get certified in sailing we had to successfully complete a “man overboard” recovery drill on the water. If we didn’t do it correctly our “victim” (in this case a life jacket) would drown. As we go about our lives, we need to remember people will die and go to hell apart from Jesus Christ and we must do everything we can to share with them the Gospel – God’s provision for salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. You may be the only one who can get to that friend, co-worker or loved one in time with the good news that Jesus made provision for their sin. In order to reach my "victim" in that drill, I was intentional with a proven plan to reach him. Be intentional in your relationships with a proven plan in order to reach them. (Hmm, "becoming a Christian is as simple as ABC..." comes to mind).
One final thought for now at least. I also learned that while I’m able to sail a small boat, I still have much to learn and even though I made mistakes and was downright overwhelmed at times, patient and faithful perseverance pays off in the end. The more I learn as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the more I know there’s more to learn. I know when I make mistakes, the Lord patiently guides me back to the truth and patient, faithful perseverance in walking with God daily will pay off no matter how overwhelmed I am. In the Gospels, I see that Jesus was comfortable in a boat no matter what storm was raging. Even though His disciples were scared and overwhelmed, Jesus brought peace to them. He does that for you and me too when we trust Him by faith no matter the storm is going on in our life. I thought you’d enjoy just a few lessons from a boat, from my little corner of the world to yours…Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church