Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
A common refrain for sailors headed out for the open seas is, “You’ve got to get your sea legs!” This refers to the nature of walking onboard a ship that is moving with the changing surface of the ocean. People who haven’t been on board ship might find walking a challenge, especially if seas are high.
Studies have been done to identify what allows a person to have greater stability while onboard ship. One study made two discoveries. First, people on board ship will widen their stance over their time aboard. That is, people automatically, over time, learn to keep their feet a little bit wider apart to have greater stability.
Second, over several days, people also learn to get a reference point that allows them to avoid swaying. Specifically, instead of looking at things on the ship to determine if they are standing upright, they look to the horizon. All this is done without thinking. Over time people learn to have a wider stance and get their bearings from the horizon, not the ship which is moving. Soon, the sailor is walking steadily on the deck and is accustomed to the movements caused by the sea.
This process of learning, adjusting, and being accustomed to life at sea is similar to a comment made by Paul in the book of Philippians about being content, or satisfied, regardless of the circumstances of life. Philippians 4:11 reads, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Notice how it is worded. Paul says, “I have learned…” to be content. He was thrown into many different circumstances. There where times he had more than enough. There where times he didn’t have enough to get by. Sometimes he was in jail. Other times his accommodations were comfortable and welcoming. In each situation, he had to get his “sea legs” and learn contentment.
Contentment doesn’t come automatically. It requires an intentional desire to adjust to new circumstances that may not have met expectations. Not only does it require intention, but it also takes time. We don’t just wake up one day and decide, “Okay, I’m fine with how things are.” Instead, over time we learn to adjust our heart, mind, and attitude by the grace of Jesus to be content with the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
How do we make that adjustment? How do we train our hearts to recognize that everything is okay, even when everything is not okay? It starts with setting our hearts on better things. As we read in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” The things being described are the things of the Kingdom of God: grace, mercy, forgiveness, eternal life, the hope of heaven, and the never-ending presence of God.
When our minds are captivated with thing things of God (things that will never end), we can have peace no matter how high the waves are crashing around us. We can learn, over time, to have a strong stance on the hope of God, and eyes fixed on the horizon of our eternal hope in Him.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Philippians 4:10-14.
See you Sunday,