Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 15; 147:1-11, Hosea 13:1-3, Acts 27:9-26, Luke 9:1-17
Imagine you are a sailor on the Mediterranean sea two thousand years ago. Your crew has been charged with transporting a prisoner from Jerusalem to stand trial before the Emperor in Rome. It’s almost winter, and many ships have already docked to wait out the angry weather until spring. Your captain though is eager to complete this voyage and sets sail. The prisoner has the nerve to suggest a delay. He is probably none too eager to meet his fate, you think. Trusting in your captain, the idols you’ve tucked into your bunk, and the value of your cargo, you set sail with the rest of the crew.
And then it turns out the prisoner was right. The swells are impossible to navigate. The ship stops a few times, makes reinforcements, but eventually finds itself helpless before the mighty wind. The crew curses as they throw cargo overboard and watch their profits sink. Then, in desperation, they toss over the tackle. The prisoner, damn his eyes, calmly tells everyone they will survive, but they’re going to have to run the ship aground. And you know he’s right.
The truth made Paul unpopular. No one likes the guy telling them they have to crash to survive. We especially don’t like him when he’s right. Once in a while we take a brave step out of the box and deliver the unpopular message, but more often than we are Paul, we are the sailor – or Pharisee – grumbling and ignoring that guy so we have more time to listen to the guy who tells us what we want to hear … even as things fall apart around us.
The truth is, sometimes you have to crash your ship – or throw profit overboard, or abandon your ideology, or wreck your comfort – to save your life. God doesn’t set out to ruin you, but if you’ve stubbornly stuck to the foolish course, the disaster may have to play out before you can move on. God will wait as long as it takes to find your safe harbor. The truth, however difficult, is your guiding star.
Comfort: When you decide to correct course, no matter difficult, we are drawing nearer to God.
Challenge: Plan a an hour of solitude each week to meditate on the direction your life is taking. Perhaps keep a notebook or journal of what you’d like to correct, how you might do it, what difficulties you might encounter, and your progress. End each session with a prayer of thanks to God for being with you.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for second, third, and fourth chances. Guide my steps so they might always lead me toward you. Amen.
Discussion: What efforts have you made to improve yourself?
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