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Finding Inspiration in Sailing with my Dad

For most of my growing up years my dad had a sailboat. I loved to sail with him and we’d often sail two or three times a week. I loved being his “ship-mate”. It gave me a sense of importance and purpose … and I always felt like I was on some sort of adventure when we sailed.
BillBecause we lived near the Mississippi river on a horseshoe lake, the wind wasn’t very strong. The only thing that blew by us were huge tow-boats headed to New Orleans, bass boats or ski boats.
But in the summers we’d go to Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and sail. That was different. It was big. It was wild.
The winds were always stronger and the seas were not like the glassy lake back in Greenville. They were often rough with swells usually 3′, 4′ and sometimes 5′ or 6′ high.
Dad often let me sail and I loved sailing out in the open gulf. There was a definite adventure and excitement to it.
But…when a storm would brew a few miles in the distance, I’d sail as long as I could.
Seeing the waves get bigger and the sail tighten under 10 or 20 knot winds brought on a certain fear and nearly instant humility.
I’d then ask my Dad to take over the helm and guide us home.
He was a very experienced sailor and in his hands I could rest easy with him in charge.
Sometimes, even when he sailed, we still fought rough seas, rain and lightning, but I knew my Dad could get us back to the well protected slip in the harbor.
I just knew. I knew because he was strong and smart and, I also knew, he wanted me to be safe.
I felt safe as he steered the boat.
God, too, wants you and me to turn over the helm of our life to Him. We may still experience rough seas but knowing He’s steering provides a sense of deep calm and confidence….even in the face of terror and fright.
Being 2-3 miles out in the gulf with 5-6′ foot swells in a boat that’s keeling over as never before is pretty scary to a 12 year old boy.
BUT….He is steering and even if we go down I know He’ll be with me tossing me the one remaining life preserver if that’s the case.
Will you turn your day and very life over to Him…let Him guide the rudder and sail…if so, then you can confidently enjoy your day with God – come what may.
If you need His strong, calm hand on the rudder of your life, meditate on these bold and steady words from Scripture. – Isaiah 41:10 (ESV, emphasis added)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Philippines 4:6-7 (ESV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Bill Stark is a Greenville, Mississippi native who graduated from Ole Miss in 1983 with a BA degree in Journalism. Bill married his college sweetheart, Starwyn Strickland, of Brazil, Mississippi, and they have three children, including twins Mary Catherine and Ellen and son Will. He currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia. Email Bill Stark at bill.stark@cloudwalk.org.

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