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 my journey.

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.

50 Responses to Parable of the Sailboat

  1. Great method of using the bold to help people follow the story!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow a fantastic story Mitch. Too good

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bruce says:

    Excellent! Thank you Mitch for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Learning to listen, something, even at my old age, I constam\ntly remind myself to do. Well said Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lynnabbott says:

    Wow! What a powerful dream, Mitch! Thank you for writing it down since it is such a strong reminder of why we need to trust God even when we can’t see the end of the road! Amazing photo as well. Bravo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not related to this post, but something that has crossed my mind: I think you are the male version of me and my husband is the male version of your wife…just from some of the things you have shared. Isn’t it wonderful to see how the Lord balances us?

    Related to this post: ““You weren’t told go to the island (etc.)…you risk swamping your true calling.” That is a lesson that I, too, learn over and over. Thank you, once again, for speaking truth into my life and reminding me to “Fix my eyes” …on His plan! Please pray that He will ingrain your final words in my heart and life… “Radical effectiveness requires radical obedience!” Knowing the struggle, you are in my prayers for the same… and may the Lord continue to bless your journey!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. revruss1220 says:

    Excellent! Thank you.

    So do we ever completely learn the lesson of trust? Or will I also remain as impatient and unsettled as you were?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great story, Mitch! I’ve had some interesting adventures in dreams, too. They make good blog stories.
    Yes, God’s Word is “a lamp unto my feet” – not a floodlight illuminating the whole highway.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Love that last sentence, SDP. Good truth, well said!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I for one have struggled with the dichotomy of stepping out in faith and waiting upon God. Perhaps your parable provides the answer, Mitch: Proceed with caution; be ready for God to redirect.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I’ve been in just such a situation: praying for guidance, assuming God answered prayer, and then being shockingly redirected. But hindsight has proven that the redirection led to a far better outcome. Great parable, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. grAnnie Roo says:

    Great. Now you have me wondering how many times I started that “But God I…” dialogue. Maybe we’ll just stick with your excellent text here. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  13. pkadams says:

    Just when I think , Oh, this must be God’s plan, things often change. This type of faith is not easy for people who want to know ‘the plan’ and always have ‘a plan’. Thanks for the insightful post.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. MrsWayfarer says:

    What a good read. Thank you, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve always appreciated a good parable!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is just fantastic, Mitch!💕

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Boy, that’s one for the books! So glad you wrote it down and shared the message! From our vantage point, we don’t see where He is taking us, but He knows, thank goodness!!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Tien Skye says:

    I love this piece of writing, especially the dreamlike sequences from one to the next paragraph!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A really nice post, Mitch. There are people that remain in the state of mist most of their waking hours. Your account is that which some may call a dream. I prefer the mist. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Lucia says:

    Thank you Mitch for this inspiring story.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Bill Sweeney says:

    This is so good, Mitch! Thanks for sharing this – it’s a message for all of us. I think sanctification is the life-long process of learning to wait and listen so we can see things from God’s perspective. It’s so hard, though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Hello Mitch,
    I wanted to see who captured John’s mind. He holds a special place in my heart.
    I followed his post….. and here I am, now following you.
    Kind regards,
    Sunshiny South Africa

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dreams are the carrier of messages. I always had a recurring dream that troubled me a lot. Alas! I was able to dissect it since it had something to do with my childhood. Your story of that island and the calling, resonated to me. Our dreams can only be understood by us. Lovely write-up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Cindy Dawson says:

    This post gives the reader a lot to think about (and that’s my goal). You do it so well. Blessings, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Pingback: Blogs & Bloggers….I love – All The Shoes I Wear

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