The Parable of the Sailboat


Most of my dreams are “mad libs,” the organized part of my mind working to construct a narrative out of snippets: poodle, drone, bent fork, chimney, fireworks… “Jacques the poodle used a bent fork to fire up his personal drone, then soared out over the suburban chimneys, singing, “Baby, you’re a firework!”

But every now and then, I receive what can only be called a message.

I was at a transition point and had been praying for guidance. Like all humans, I want clear, complete answers. And I want them now!

Then, early one morning, as I slipped back beneath the surface of consciousness, I found myself on a sailboat at sea. I’d been travelling for days and had prayed repeatedly for direction. Finally, the clouds rolled back, a light beamed down, and a voice rumbled, “Hang a left.” There was something teasing in the tone, but I didn’t mind. It was direction! I’d finally received direction!

I turned the tiller and thrilled at my sense of purpose as the boat groaned to portside and waves danced onto the deck.

I had a mission!

Before long, I spotted an island and thought, “God is sending me there!” As the island grew nearer, I saw people, beautiful islanders in graceful catamarans rowing out to meet me! “Hallo!” I shouted. “God is sending me to you! Hallo!” And then, just as I was close enough to make out their faces, the clouds parted again:

“Hang a right.” That was all the voice said. Just “hang a right.” No explanation.

I bitterly turned the boat to starboard and sailed away from my calling, away from my purpose.

After hours of sulking, I yelled, “Why? Why did you change your mind, Lord?” This time, in lieu of a voice, I was yanked up into the sky. I looked down and saw a map marking my journey. Only now could I see what had actually occurred:

I’d been sailing toward a distant country when I’d come to the edge of a perilous reef, one that would have shredded my little boat—and me. And so the Voice had told me to turn left. As soon as I began to tack I found myself in line with an island that had nothing to do with my journey. And then, reaching the western edge of the reef, I’d been told to turn right and continue my journey.

At that moment, I woke up. “What was that?” I asked. And a still, small voice replied, “You were never told to go to the island. You saw it and decided it was your mission. Yes, I have a purpose for you, but in your hunger for complete direction here and now, you make assumptions and threaten to swamp that purpose. You must learn to wait. Learn to listen. Learn to live by every word that proceeds from My mouth, and not your assumptions about those words.” (Matthew 4:4)

Note to self: Mad libs are OK in dreams.

But not in life.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Parable of the Sailboat

  1. bdeckard92 says:

    Wow… just wow. Really powerful, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. DeniseBalog says:

    Mitch this is awesome revelation!! Thank you for sharing!! Wow!! Sailing on this for the day:) Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rothpoetry says:

    This is a really great illustration! Love the Sail Boat picture as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So powerful, Mitch! Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Timely post.. thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you! The longer I am blessed to be on my walk of faith, I am amazed how God communicates with us and how so often we must be patient as God will answer in His time and His way….so often, providing us the unexpected! We think we have thought about all the possibilities and yet, God places another one before us. Then, if we have listened, obey!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m smiling, because I have been praying for direction myself. We all do. There are times when our life seems “on target,” we KNOW our mission and then we are thrown a curve ball and like you, we realize that we cannot “speed up” God’s plan. When that happens and I feel like I am waiting forever, I am reminded of that country song by Garth Brooks called, “Unanswered Prayers.” It’s very good. I ALSO remember the phrase, “Luck is when Opportunity meets Preparation.” That we are responsible for creating our luck, it doesn’t just happen. We need to have a mission and passion we are pursuing and as we work at it with determination, God helps things fall into place. GREAT STORY – a reminder to be patient and TRUST that answers are coming! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I’m with bdeckard, above: Wow…just wow. That is one memorable dream and lesson for all of us! Thank you, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jeffw5382 says:

    I’m speechless but felt I needed to say something. Truly inspired and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was actually thinking along these lines recently. We can really mess up good work (not to mention our own thinking) by trying to make it serve the wrong purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Be still and wait. PERFECT timing for this message! THANK YOU!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. John S says:

    Someday I will have to tell you about my first time going out on a small sailboat with my daughter.  At the time it was not a fun adventure but it did make for a good sermon illustration. 

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Waiting on the Lord! | This Side of the Whirlwind

  14. blogging baby boomer says:

    Wise, compelling, and very pertinent to my life. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great parable. One that everyone should take heed of. God sees all, whereas, we can only see what we assume to be our path. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. H.M. Davis says:

    Fantastic word. Oh, how many times this has been true in my life! Goodness, you’d think I would learn to trust His word alone, but I always want to go muddying things with my perceptions…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BelleUnruh says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your dream. God is so amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This made me think of my dad. He started out as a 16 year old in the navy. Left home, and everything he knew, to sail the world. He is now a professor, highly respected in his field. And he no longer sails because he gets seasick. Very, very seasick o_O

    This is a good message, Mitch. Another point is that we might not be the centre even of our own story. Our lives are for service, not for our own glory. It may be that no one even sees what we do, but we are still following God’s direction for our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “rudderly” AWESOME! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Gradual Miracles | Mitch Teemley

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