afraid not or not afraid?

Once upon a time there was a man who owned a radio-controlled sailing boat. It was a beautiful boat that was a model of an early America’s Cup 6 metre yacht, and it had been built by one of the man’s friends. The boat was 5 feet long and with the mast and sail was over 6 feet tall.

The man loved the sleek, graceful lines of the boat. He loved how the British Racing Green hull merged with the blue keel, separated by a white stripe. He loved the feel of the wooden deck and how all of the fittings on the boat were miniature replicas of the real thing.

He loved the fact that there were limited controls for the boat. He could control the direction by turning the rudder and he could control the speed by tightening or loosening the sails. But everything else was at the mercy of the wind and tides. There was no engine. The man enjoyed watching how a small movement on the radio control sticks caused the rudder to twitch or the lines on the boat to move.

The man was really happy with his boat.

But he was also anxious about his boat. What if when he sailed it the batteries ran out and he was unable to communicate with it any longer? What if it capsized in the middle of a lake? What if it got stuck on an underwater obstruction? What if it hit something and sank?

All of these anxieties would build up in the man’s mind and he would be afraid to take the boat sailing.

But sometimes instead of the anxieties he would remember how beautiful the boat looked as it sailed gracefully across a lake. He would remember the calming sound of the water lapping against the hull as the boat glided through it. He would remember the joy of being able to sail the boat into the wind, across the wind and ahead of the wind. He would remember how happy it all made him feel.

And then the man would pack his boat into his car and go off to sail it. The anxieties might still surface but the joy and relaxation he got from seeing the boat doing what it was built to do was far greater. And when he got to share that with his friends the experience was multiplied.

What holds you back from doing what you are made to do? Are you holding someone else back?

Be blessed, be a blessing

radio control

IMGP0410My sailing boat is radio-controlled (It’s the one with the green hull). I have discovered that there are two types of radio control units. The radio signal from my controller tells the receiver unit in the boat what I want it to do and the boat responds. But the two types of controller are different:

One, the type I have, is analogue and the signals are broadcast over a particular frequency but in a way that any other boat that is tuned into the same frequency will also receive the same instructions. So I have to have a second set of crystals tuned to a different frequency to change over in that event.

The other type of control system is digital. The controller and receiver are linked together in a unique way and nothing else shares that unique ‘signature’. There is no interference, no fear that someone else might be affected by my transmitter.

In my mind it’s the difference between a loud hailer and a mobile phone. A loud hailer (megaphone) broadcasts loud and clear to anyone and everyone in the vicinity. Anyone can hear what is being said. A mobile phone has a unique number and only the person who has that phone can receive what is being said (unless they are on a train in which case everyone hears).

Sometimes God speaks in the same way as an analogue signal, or a loud hailer. His words and thoughts are for everyone to hear. An appreciation of his creativity is available to anyone who looks at the wonders of nature. An awareness of his love for us and how much he values us is available to anyone who cares to read a Bible (if you never have I suggest you start with one of the Gospels – Luke is my favourite). A sense of awe about who he is available to anyone who attends a service in church or who gets to look at the night sky without any light pollution. You get the idea.

But sometimes he speaks with a digital signal, through direct phone number. Those words are specifically for us. The amazing thing is that sometimes that comes even when I am listening to a wider ‘broadcast’ from him. Specific words and thoughts come through to me (perhaps in the same way that my boat receives and responds to the analogue signals intended for it). And sometimes the words come to me through a person who unwittingly says exactly what I needed to hear. And sometimes they come as I read the Bible and see words that were written thousands of years ago that are exactly relevant to me today (not surprising if the One who inspired them is also the One to whom I am trying to listen).

But, as I said in my earlier bloggage, the art is to be listening to him. He never stops broadcasting analogue and digital signals. My job is to tune in to him, to be receptive to him and to respond.

Be blessed, be a blessing

remote

2012-05-31 12.05.31
If you look carefully you can see the little crew!

It’s getting into the season where my thoughts start to turn to sailing again. Not the whooshing about on the waves with the wind in your hair (yes I know, “What hair?”) and ducking to avoid the boom type of sailing (it hurts more without hair if you get it wrong). I mean the more sedate and gentle sailing where you stand on the shore and wiggle joysticks on a radio control unit to adjust the settings on a radio controlled yacht out on the water.

 

It is very relaxing and enjoyable as a pastime, but it’s difficult to explain why that is without you experiencing it for yourself. You still have to understand the dynamics of sailing, you are still at the mercy of the wind and waves, yet there is still the satisfaction of controlling the boat: seeing how fast you can go, how close to the wind you can sail, how accurately you can turn and so on.

It’s not all plain sailing however. It becomes more complicated by the presence of other boats on the water. It becomes more difficult in stronger wind conditions and the boat is heeling rather spectacularly. It is more fraught when you know that there are submerged hazards that can snag the boat. And what if the batteries run out?

I have sailed in full sized yachts and I feel greater anxiety with the model than when I am in a boat. I think it is because I am not in the yacht. If I am in a boat there is a greater sense of control, whereas with the model if something goes wrong I may have to wade out and retrieve the stricken vessel. It won’t be the end of the world but it will be embarrassing, uncomfortable and wet.

I wonder if God has the same feeling about us. Not that we are remotely controlled – he created us with the freedom and autonomy to do what we want – but does he feel anxiety about us, his beloved ones, when we are distant, remote, not in direct contact, out of reach?

Except that if we are believers he is also ‘on board’. His Spirit is in us. The autonomy is not diminished, but when we choose to listen to him and accept his help he participates in our life as much as we will allow him to.

So perhaps the problem is not so much that I can be distant, remote or not in direct contact. It’s more a question of the occasional mutiny.

Be blessed, be a blessing