I decided to ride my bike back to work this afternoon after lunch. As soon as I turned West, I realized why that was not a great call! I had to fight a really crazy wind, which was blowing in direct opposition to my intended course, the entire ride. I’m not all that into biking, so my biking muscles were very angry. Sort of like the kid on the playground who tried to get on the merry go round going the wrong way, only I get to keep all my teeth!
I decided to detour a couple blocks just to get a respite from the headwind, and my mind wandered to Abby Sunderland. She’s the girl I wrote about a few weeks ago sailing around the world by herself. When you’re in a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, and the wind is not blowing the direction you want to travel… what do you do? Abby used the term ‘northing’ to describe the process of going east by heading north. I’ve never sailed, but as I understand it, there’s some waiting involved, manipulating sails to go in a perpendicular direction (north in this case), then cutting back diagonally (southeast) to where you wanted to be in the first place – constantly adjusting to get where you were headed.
This made me think of last week driving around the Los Angeles area for Catalyst West. If I missed an exit or turn I needed to make, I had to adjust course quickly. Being familiar with the map and recognizing a few landmarks from the previous few days I’d been in the area was critical to being sure we got to where we wanted to go.
And all this thinking, and pedaling, and sweating, and wind (I can’t be in wind without thinking of the Holy Spirit), and course adjusting brought to mind a question: What if where I want to go in life, isn’t the way God wants me to go? I can adjust my course to get where I want to be anyway, essentially ignoring God. But choosing this course of action requires me to constantly fight against the wind of the Spirit, and that doesn’t sound like the kind of life I’d enjoy. I’d rather throw up my sail and let the Wind blow fast and furious, taking me where He wants. Len Sweet uses the term ‘pneumanaut’ to describe someone navigating through life by God’s Spirit. We may not always know where He’ll take us, but that’s part of the excitement. We’ll be blown through restful islands and busy cities… deserts and mountains and forests… shuttled through life and death, but always knowing that He’s there, moving us, lifting the waves and drawing the tides and currents to bring us home!
I meet a lot of people who are recognizing their brokenness. Life just isn’t what they’d hoped for. I wonder, how often, that’s the result of choosing to constantly fight the Wind. Even when they get what they wanted, they find it empty and not worth the fight, so they move on to the next thing. Maintaining the illusion of control, many people bounce from one unfulfilling moment to the next.
May we in the church help them see how to tune their sails to His Wind in order to find their way home.