Parable of the Sailboat


Most of my dreams are “mad libs,” the organized part of my mind attempting to construct a narrative out of disparate snippets. But every now and then I receive what could actually be considered a message.

My life was at a transition point. I’d been praying for guidance and, like all humans, wanted clear, complete directions–and I wanted them now!

Then early one morning, as I hovered below consciousness, I found myself on a sailboat at sea. I’d been travelling for days and had prayed repeatedly for guidance. Finally, the clouds rolled back, a light beamed down, and a Monty Python-ish voice rumbled, “Hang a left.”

Directions! I’d finally received directions! I turned the tiller. The boat groaned to portside. 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 beautiful islanders in graceful catamarans rowing out to meet me! “Hello!” I shouted. “God is sending me to you!” And then, just as I was about to land, the clouds parted, and the voice said, “Hang a right.”

That was it, no explanation, just “hang a right.” I bitterly heeled to starboard and sailed away. Away from my calling, away from my purpose! After hours of sulking, I yelled, “Why? Why did you change your mind, God?”

I was suddenly yanked up into the sky, from whence I was able to look down, for the first time, upon the entire course of my journey (which was marked by a conveniently cinematic dotted line). And from there–from God’s point of view–I was able see what had actually occurred:

I’d been sailing toward a distant country when I came to the edge of a perilous reef, one that would have shredded my little boat, and me! So the Voice had instructed me to turn left. But as soon as I began tacking to port I found myself in line with an island, one which, in fact, had nothing to do with my journey. Then, when I reached the western edge of the reef, I was told to turn right and continue on.

At that moment, I awoke. “What was that?” I asked. And a still, small voice replied, “You weren’t told go to the island, Mitch. You saw it and assumed you were. Every time that, in your desire for complete directions, you make assumptions, you risk swamping your true calling. You must learn to wait. Learn to listen. Learn to live by every word that proceeds from My mouth, not just some of the words, and never by your assumptions about them! (Matthew 4:4) Radical effectiveness requires radical obedience!”

Mad libs are OK in dreams, but not in real 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 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

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