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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Who is at the helm?

Publilius Syrus once said, "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." These are profound words - for nothing really challenges us when the seas are calm, allowing us to just glide through the waters of life. Kick up a little wind, throw in a little upturn in those serene waters, and add a conflicting current with a mind of its own into the mix and the desire to turn the helm over to someone more skilled at "piloting" the vessel is almost always advisable! Isn't it amazing how "secure" we feel when the waters are calm and how immediately insecure we feel when the currents of life get too great for us to manage in our own strength? 

When the upright need help and cry to the Eternal, He hears their cries and rescues them from all of their troubles. When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close and revives him in his pain.  Hard times may well be the plight of the righteous—they may often seem overwhelmed—
but the Eternal rescues the righteous from what oppresses them.  (Psalm 34:17-19 VOICE)

There are two kinds of people in life - those who call for help so frequently we don't know when they really need it or are just calling out; and those who call out so infrequently we are absolutely certain their calls must be addressed.  I think this was the purpose of the little story my parents used to tell me about the "boy who cried wolf".  The boy cried out and cried out so many times, only to be found not really needing help, that when he called out in "true need" because the wolf was actually attacking, no one came to his rescue and he lost all his flock. It is a fine balance between being "needy" and being truly "in need", isn't it?  One might think it is wrong, or gives others a wrong impression of our strength when we "cry out", but when we do, we want to know someone will hear us and will come to our rescue!

"Nothing makes one feel so strong as a call for help." (Pope Paul VI)  Some have a tough time "crying out" - seeing it as a sign of weakness, rather than strength.  To admit we are in need of someone else to take the helm for us isn't a sign of our lack of wisdom, or even of our lack of "trying".  It is a sign of strength to actually turn the helm over to someone else because when we do, we are trusting the one at the helm to steer us to safety!  It takes a tremendously "strong" individual to actually trust another with the "navigation" of their life. To place our trust in Jesus to be the one at the helm of our lives when the seas are calm takes much more strength than to just do so when the seas begin to "kick up" a little!  

The first time I let my kids drive the car with me in the passenger seat was probably the closest illustration to this type of trust I can think of at the moment.  I had always been the one behind the wheel.  Now, the "child" was taking the wheel - you know those imaginary brake pedals on the passenger side of the car - I used them!  In handing over the keys, allowing that teenager to slide in behind the wheel, and then trusting them to not "steer us wrong" was a huge step of faith.  That extra brake pedal was only imaginary - no matter what I did from my side of the car, I couldn't stop it!  It took me to a new level of trust with my children to actually teach them to drive.  I wonder if God might just be teaching us a whole new level of trust when he asks us to take the passenger seat in our lives and just let him drive?  Just wonderin!