The Windless Places
Encounter: Read slowly through James 3:1-18 in two different translations. Underline any words or phrases that seem to stand out from the others.
Ocean air is good for the soul. So, last week I drove Meg out to visit her friend Kait on the coast of Oregon in Manzanita. When we walked in the front door, I noticed an old photo of a shipwreck hanging on a wall in the foyer. I love the history of quaint beach towns and started asking questions about the antique black and white image of sailors posing in front of a massive beached vessel.
The story is told that on a calm and beautiful day in October 1913 people in the beachside tavern were surprised to see the British schooner Glenesslin emerge from the haze hanging over the ocean and sail into the end of Neahkahnie Mountain. It is said that the ship struck the cliff under almost full sail.
Of course, the question is why did this successful square rigger of 1,818 tons of steel 260 feet long sail right into a huge mountain of rocks? One account describes the possible answer,
When lookouts on the ship spotted the light on Tillamook Head between Cannon Beach and Seaside, the vessel had been four months at sea – a full month longer than planned for the voyage from Santos, Brazil, to Portland to pick up a load of wheat. Everyone on board was tired, hungry and eager to arrive in port. In the offshore haze, the Glenesslin wandered so far south and east that she entered the windless shelter of Cape Falcon. Powerless to change course, the ship struck the cliff. The crew used the line seen in the photo to get safely to shore.
Whatever the specific reason, it’s clear they were tired, hungry and weary of life at sea and wandered off course into a “windless” place. Not even the rutter could help them.
James tells us, A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! (The Message verses James 3:3-5)
The key seems to be not to wander off into those “windless” places but instead keep yourself in places where the wind of the Spirit of God moves you so your rutter (your words, your influence, your love, your intentionality, the way you live your life) keeps you from a shipwreck.
James in his blunt way puts the responsibility to not get shipwrecked on us. But in case we think we don’t have what it takes, Paul gives us the encouragement we need to know that God has given us the way to escape the shipwrecks. God always provides a way of escape so that we are able to endure and keep moving forward (1 Cor. 10:13).
Are you tired, nothing satisfying your hunger, weary of life’s circumstances? God’s message to us? We are not powerless to change course. Like the sails of a schooner moved by the wind, let your life be filled, guided and influenced by the Spirit of God.
And just in case there is a shipwreck, God also reminds us there can be a rescue. Like the line that was anchored to the Neahkahnie Mountain (The Place of God) to get the sailors to safety, Jesus extends his hand to put your feet on solid ground again. Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer! (James 5:16 TPT).
If we do this, James assures us that, You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (The Message v.18)
Are you heading for a windless place? Have you hit the rocks? Remember how much your words can accomplish when the Holy Spirit fills your sails!
Sailing with you,
· Can you identify a time when you felt your words caused a shipwreck? How about a time when it was smooth sailing?
· What are some reasons proper communication is so important?
· Has your tongue ever gotten you in trouble? Did it have lasting repercussions?
· Can you remember a time when you spoke nice things and in the same day had an inappropriate outburst? Or anything similar?
Encourage: Is there someone you need to go to and confess and acknowledge words that you used to hurt them? Maybe for a shipwreck that you caused? The promise is healing.
In your Life Group, Triad or with a friend do this exercise:
James gives us 2 examples of rutters that will steer our lives. Look at these and think about how these rutters have moved your life in certain directions.
Rutter #1 - God’s Heavenly Wisdom
· Understands God
· Beautiful – fruitful life
· Filled with peace
· Filled with love
· Peaceful acts
Rutter #2 - Worldly Wisdom
· Bitter jealousy
· Phony & hypocrisy
· Bitter jealousy