Sails Safely Stowed

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A few months ago, whilst on a retreat day, I was out walking, thinking, praying, listening to God, and taking photos. I was less than a mile from my childhood home, but in an area I’d not explored previously*.

[* I had tried to explore it previously, but had been shot at by a farmer – it has since become open park land]

I stumbled upon a sailing club, and was struck by the boats, which were moored with the masts still erected, but their sails safely stowed away.

Haversham Sailing Club at rest...

Haversham Sailing Club at rest…

I felt God challenge me about the Holy Spirit, and started to reflect on the boats and what it takes to sail them. Of course they are powered by the wind, totally reliant on it, but there was more than that. In order for the wind to be of any use the sails must be unfurled, raised and kept trim. To sail is an intentional act. Though sailing is for pleasure, there is usually a destination in mind and a course planned to reach it (more true in open water, less true on a sailing lake).

Scripture refers to the Spirit of God as ‘ruach’ meaning breath or wind. So I continued my reflection, specifically considering the Holy Spirit as the wind and the sailing boat representing individual Christians or the church corporately. If we are to harness the power of the Holy Spirit, we must be ready. We need to be intentional about preparing & we must be expectant.

Initially my thoughts were that the wind determined the direction, and therefore the destination. But of course there are constant adjustments being made to the sails to make best use of the power, and it is possible to correct the course using the rudder too. We cannot simply prepare & await the arrival of the Holy Spirit then sit back and expect to arrive at our planned destination.

This may all seem very simple and very obvious stuff to you. But it was a helpful reflection for me, as I seek not just what God has in store for me & my family, but where the destination might be. It felt worthy of further reflection. Am I anticipating the coming wind, and are my sails unfurled and ready to harness the power?

I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was just a preamble to a further challenge to come.

Bradwell Windmill

Bradwell Windmill

As I turned around, away from the view of the boats, I noticed a windmill in the distance. It is a windmill I remember well from my childhood (though since restored), but I was still surprised when I saw it.

God stirred me once more, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I was left with a strong sense that the windmill was significant.

I moved on to two further locations along the north of Milton Keynes, and caught a glimpse of the windmill again from each, the feeling of significance grew each time.

In the month which followed I reflected on the windmill and the wind of God. Those reflections will follow…