Sailing with Jesus in the Hold

We know that Jesus is our anchor, but that is a metaphor about assurance that only works when there is a storm, or port – the idea that we need to firmly stay put and Jesus holds us in place amidst the tossing seas. Anchors keep ships in one place. And that is a helpful image at times, but if it is the only nautical metaphor we employ for Jesus it gives us the impression that the Christian life is meant to be static and safe.

Ships are made to sail, though. The Spirit is like the wind, going where He will and our job is to learn how to sail. Not play it safe in a cozy cove somewhere. Another helpful metaphor for Jesus, in terms of ships, is ballast. Ballast is weight used to keep a ship steady and upright in the water. Anything can be used as ballast, whatever is in the hold of a ship must be evenly distributed to keep the ship sailing properly; ballast keeps a ship stable.

Imagine a modern freighter where all the containers of Camry’s are on the port side and all the containers of Duracell batteries are on the starboard side. That ship would list and roll. In wooden ships they carried over 3,000 gallons of water and after three months at sea, the weight shifts, so the barrels, the resources, the ballast needs shifting.

When you get the ballast wrong what happens is either the ship is tossed about like a cork in a hurricane or the ship can’t sail properly – it’s sluggish and unresponsive to the rudder or it lists to one side and no amount of wind can get the ship up to top speed.Christ is our ballast. Down in your heart, in the hold of your ship, how are your doctrines? How is the ballast? Are things imbalanced? God’s justice and God’s mercy? God’s humility and God’s wrath? God’s goodness and God’s power? God’s sovereignty and God’s grace? How are your doctrines? How is your relationship with Jesus? How is your Christology doing? Do you need to go down in the hold and shift some things around? Is your spiritual life, is your life, stable? Does your faith rise and fall with the stock market? Is the amount of gratitude in your heart equal to the amount of food in your belly? Are you reading fifty chapters of bible for 6 weeks and then not picking it up again for six months? Are you like a cork in a hurricane? Do you buy a motorcycle on a whim and then sell it on a whim? Do you rejoice one day and despair the next? Is your spouse the best one minute and the next finds you considering divorce? Are you praying only when you need something? Are you one day, looking at your kids as if they are angels visiting from heaven and escaped demons from hell the next? Or maybe no amount of wind will get you moving at all? The wind of the Spirit is moving all around you but you’re unresponsive. Hearing and not doing. Perceiving but never coming to understanding? Seeing the light but bumbling awkwardly around is if it’s still dark? Is there a lot of Jesus in your devotional time but none in your commute? Does He sit at the dinner table but not in your cubicle? There may be a lot of Jesus in your head but none in your heart. You’re neither hot nor cold but a constant tepid sluggish bleh? How is your ballast?

Ephesians 4:13-14 says the lord is leading you to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that [you] may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” God is equipping you to sail. Are you hearing and doing? Are you engaged? Is your life a sea with a fixed destination on which you are learning to sail?

In Philippians 4:5 Paul says “let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The lord is at hand.” Reasonableness is an interesting translation. The word means something closer to equanimity. Be balanced, be stable Paul is saying. Jesus is at hand. Jesus is your ballast.

Don’t freak out. Don’t be excessive in your emotions or reactions.  Don’t sit there like a rock – Jesus isn’t just an anchor when you need respite. The wind is blowing, God is working and if you get your ballast right – then you will sail properly and not sink.

Be warned. Equanimity and stability are a sign of Christian maturity. Is Jesus your creed or is He a platitude? Is Jesus your robe of righteousness for daily life or the Sunday coat you put on once a week? Is he at hand at all times, the ballast that keeps your ship stable? Are you predictable? Are you steady and on the move?

Jeremiah 17:14


Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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