May 27, 2022

Life Lessons from Sailing

Written by Boyd Bailey

A life of fulfillment charts a course based on Christ’s coordinates.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 27, 2022

They got into their boats and went … in search of Jesus. John 6:24

My friend Bill is a certified sailing captain…he also happens to be in a book club with me and three mutual friends. Bill invited our group of avid readers and learners to join him for a week-long adventure over the deep blue sea. After saving and planning for a year, we flew three hours south of Atlanta and launched out on our excursion. This was Bill’s tenth trip and the first for the rest of us. Beginning with a nautical orientation, we experienced a daily tutorial of when to hoist or lower the sail, and how to gybe or tact the boat, mostly in opposite directions. We also learned accurate nomenclature: the ropes are lines and the map is a chart. Sailing requires precision.

Here are three life lessons I learned from sailing with four friends for a week:

Follow An Experienced Captain You Can Trust

An experienced boat captain can be trusted with a timely and safe arrival at the anticipated destination. A seasoned captain has been through storms, calm seas and boat malfunctions. So, his wisdom to know what to do come clear days, rough waters or a fan belt eating into a rubber exhaust hose (yes this happened on our trip, on the last day as we docked!) commands respect. We respected Bill, as we joyfully followed his directions, trusting he had our best interest in mind.

Those who follow Jesus trust Him as the captain of their soul. When we wonder in fear and uncertainty about the hidden coral reefs in the shallows, the Spirit keeps us from wandering into deceptive waters and wrecking our lives with foolish decisions. But to avoid disaster we must remain within earshot of our Lord’s instructions. Christ is clear about what He commands us to do—love others like we want to be loved: with undivided attention, kind words and availability to help. The captain of our soul endured the cross so we can endure, He despised the shame, so we can live shamelessly, and He sat down next to the Father so we can look forward to being with our Father in heaven. We can trust Jesus to navigate our life to our next destination.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Chart a Course and Adjust When Needed

An enjoyable sailing experience includes the anticipation of popular destinations such as fish filled snorkeling in underwater caves. Captain Bill directed us to a chart of the pristine areas. The navigational course customized daily assured we had a splendid mixture of sailing, snorkeling and intimate storytelling. Each day exploded with its own personality. Morning Bible study in Romans, adventuresome snorkeling by day and being known at night anchored our souls. 

In a similar fashion, a life of fulfillment charts a course based on Christ’s coordinates. God has a game plan for us to execute. Many times He navigates us through this process of discovering His will through His Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, validated in prayer and with the support of a loving community. A life without direction is destined to drift aimlessly on the sea of self-reliance, unable to rest in the Lord’s best. Thankfully, a life trusting in Jesus experiences true life.  

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they make take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).

Enjoy The Ride Even When It’s Rough

Captain Bill explained the best way to avoid sea sickness is not an ear patch–though it can be helpful, but to sit outside toward the front of the boat and to fix my gaze on the horizon of our destination. On day one I forgot. I was below deck, looking down as I briskly washed a couple of coffee cups. In that brief moment, I lost my orientation and began to feel motion sickness. I scurried up the stairs and found a comfortable spot. I sat and leaned against the mast (this turned out to be my “go to” sometime during each day). With my eyes fixed on the horizon, the vicious   slamming of the hull did not draw me into sea sickness, rather I was able to develop my sea legs. Charmed by the clouds, awakened by the salty sea spray and invigorated by the gusty wind on my toasty face—I was able to enjoy the ride! Real life satisfaction comes from enjoying the journey.

The devil tries to disorient God’s children. Since he can’t steal our soul, he tries to lure us into miserable living by settling for mediocrity. Satan uses pain to pronounce our heavenly Father uncaring. But, in pain—our loving Lord can be the most precious as we still praise Him in the storm. We may sink in fear or cower in the corner of the boat in unbelief, but Jesus walks toward us, offering a strong reassuring hand. Love casts out fear. Grace reaffirms weak faith. A wayward relationship may have snatched our joy but the kind Shepherd searches for the stray one. Softly, tenderly, Jesus calls us to praise Him and appropriate His joy to be our strength for life’s journey.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).


Dear Jesus, you are the captain of my soul, lead me in your will to enjoy life’s journey, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


How can I better enjoy others and the Lord while embracing life’s adventures?

Related Reading

Isaiah 2:15-17; Proverbs 31:14; Matthew 14:13; Luke 8:23; Acts 13:4

Worship Resource

Celtic Worship: Psalm 23


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