Posts Tagged ‘rest’

I’m about to throw so much nautical imagery at you. #sorrynotsorry

There’s a quote that I’ve known of for years, but I’ve never really questioned it or picked it apart until the past few days.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John August Shedd

On the surface, it’s a real ‘that’ll preach!’ quote, right? Ships are meant for going out on the open water and carrying out a purpose. The vessel for the fisherman to have his days work, the home away from home for cruise guests, the transportation for carrying various goods from one port to another. So yeah, ships are made to be out on the open water, accomplishing a purpose.

This quote is so often given as a charge to people when they face fear, doubt, adversity, and hard times.

In the Christian community I’ve seen it used time and time again for each of those above situations as an encouragement to weary and overwhelmed individuals, looking for hope to press on in their journey as the vessel that carries out the purpose.

It’s fired me up a time or two when I’ve felt down. I’ve thought “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

Recently, though? I’m feeling a little unsure of offering up this quote as something that should empower.

Look at my thought process above “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

It’s all in my strength.

And sometimes, we just don’t have the strength.

We become overwhelmed and exhausted.

We need rest but continue to press on because ‘ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships were made for.’

But, did you catch that first part of the actual quote at the top? A ship is safe in harbor.

And I think with all the challenges we face in life, sometimes we need a safe place.

Christians come from all types of backgrounds – abused and abusers,  high horses and lowly broken places, picture perfect lives and obvious shambles. Sometimes we need safety from our past – sometimes we need safety from who we used to be – quite honestly sometimes we need a safe place from who we have become.

When it becomes more about us – and us carrying out a task – it becomes less about Jesus. And when we don’t meet Him for rest and safety – we forget this mission is not about us but about making great the name of Jesus.

And if it was about us? Well wouldn’t that just make you feel so defeated – because you can’t do it, you don’t have the strength to.

And so, maybe, maybe sometimes we need safety.

Sometimes we need that rest.

Sometimes, we need the harbor.

And sometimes without the place of rest and refueling, we lose sight of Who is guiding the vessel – and we try to guide it ourselves. I know I have given myself undue credit  in the Big Picture and so I’ve got to believe maybe you have, too.

Part of being that vessel is accepting the humble position that you are part of the process, not the entire process or even the organizer of the process.

And sometimes, we need to humble ourselves with taking a step back – we need to head to the harbor. We need to be less about the purpose and more about the One Who Purposes us.

We wrongfully empower ourselves, and sometimes wrongfully empower others, when we charge someone with the notion that they were made to do greater things when they feel like they can’t accomplish anything of greatness at the moment. We don’t direct them to the harbor to rest and remember the Overseer of the whole things – we try to own it ourselves.

But we need the harbor.

We weren’t made to stay there forever, no. And when you pause for rest, you still need to be proactive in your pursuit of your God given purpose. But if we never dock-in, we end up running off our own fumes of exhaustion and overcompensating – and we miss it.

Don’t miss that you’re the vessel – not the commander – and the vessel has to lean in to what the commander asks of them. Sometimes, that’s to push past fear and doubt and carry out the mission in rough waters and the unseen shoreline that we’re promised to reach at the end of it all. Sometimes, though, I do think we’ve got to scale back and find rest.

In Matthew 11 the Bible says “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When you feel burdened do you seek your own strength to finish out the task because you believe its through your strength the task is carried out? Or do you seek the One who offers gentleness and rest in our soul in exchange for us surrendering our part in carrying the burden – and our admitting that we can do nothing apart from relinquishing it all to the Lord.

So, yes, you were made to be out on the waters of purpose – but the harbor is not something to be ignored, it was created with a purpose. Rest in the Lord is essential. Don’t lose sight of that.

Wishing you rest and peace,

a fellow ship in these sometimes hectic waters


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