Steady As She Goes

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Steady As She Goes

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When a storm strikes or the current is strongly against you people expect you to not falter or flag in your direction and course.

The Bible tells us that one of the wonders of this world is the way in which a ship plies the waters (Proverbs 30:19 Proverbs 30:19The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent on a rock; the way of a ship in the middle of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
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). The way of a ship in the midst of the sea in all likelihood is directed at the awesome sight of a sailboat tacking into the wind, or using the wind to maneuver. Even today, sailing fascinates people. Early this year, I had occasion to spend a few days aboard a huge ocean-going ship, where I noticed some fascinating things. One was the awesome feeling I got with the seeming inevitability of the ship to move forward, and the great effort needed to change course or to dock. There is something steady, measured and intentional that makes one feel that the forward motion is reliable and hard to change. The statement “steady as she goes” gives a feeling of control over a huge power and force. Indeed, the momentum built by such a huge vessel is enormous. It seems that the force is lasting and enduring.

Endurance, or continuance in a given direction, is vital to the character of a follower of Jesus Christ. The word endurance means: “the state or power of enduring or bearing: a suffering patiently without sinking: patience: lasting quality: maximum performance under given conditions” (Chambers Concise 20th Century Dictionary). In Matthew 10:22 Matthew 10:22And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.
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Jesus says, “He who endures to the end will be saved.”  1Corinthians 13:7 states that love “endures all things.” Endurance is a quality of character that people admire and respect, just as they admire the continuous forward motion of a huge ship.

Paul’s example of endurance

Many of the references in scripture about endurance imply that the going will not always be easy. There will be storms, contrary winds and currents, as well as the continued maintenance and course corrections that every ship needs. Paul is an example of one who endured hardships and every imaginable effort to move him off course; yet he remained “steady as she goes.” Paul teaches endurance by what he suffered and admonishes all who read his letters to expect and overcome problems in life. Perhaps one of the strongest message threads of Paul’s writings is that of endurance. In 2 Thessalonians 1:4 2 Thessalonians 1:4So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure:
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he compliments the Thessalonians by writing: “So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure…” In 2 Timothy 2:3 2 Timothy 2:3You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
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Paul encourages Timothy to “endure hardship as a good soldier” and states in verse 10, “I endure all things for the sake of the elect.”

Many people know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. They expect your conduct and behavior to be steady and strong regardless of the circumstances. As a matter of fact, when a storm strikes or the current is strongly against you they expect you not to falter or flag in your direction and course. Paul was saying as much when he endured for the sake of others. He was after the great prize that God offers to all: eternal life in the family of God with endless blessings, joy, peace and happiness for all eternity. Paul was very aware of all who were watching him. He was setting an example and could say, “imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16 1 Corinthians 4:16Why I beseech you, be you followers of me.
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). Many of the admonitions of Paul show the need to remain faithful and steady in following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Paul’s words to the leaders in the church (the deacons and ministry) are loaded with this implication. 1 Timothy 3 is a chapter devoted to explaining what a leader in the Body of Christ is to be like. Throughout it, we see the need to remain steady and reliable.

Never lose sight of your goal

Endurance may be the most significant ingredient that is needed to stay on course. One must know the direction and have the ability to zero in on the target or goal. The steady forward progress toward a goal through storms and bad weather, as well as in good sailing conditions, is what is so admired. A sailing ship is even more fascinating when one thinks of the constant effort needed to maintain course and direction. There is something about a huge ocean vessel that inevitably turns my mind to thinking about the course of a converted person. Both vessels teach adaptability and staying steady at the same time. The enduring to the end that Jesus admonished requires a state of mind that is set on achieving the goal no matter what may come. A Christian does have the loving hand of God guiding him through the storms; however, God does not always calm the waters on which we sail. He allows us to develop the character that Christ revealed so that we can be more like Him.

Hebrews 12:1-15 Hebrews 12:1-15 [1] Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, [2] Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. [4] You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. [5] And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: [6] For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives. [7] If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? [8] But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. [9] Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. [11] Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby. [12] Why lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; [13] And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. [14] Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: [15] Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
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has some interesting and powerful statements to make about this subject. In Hebrews 11 we are told to consider the witnesses that lived before us as those who remained steady. We are told to “run with patience.” Every runner knows that much of the ability to run is a mental mindset or conditioning that one is determined to stay the course, to adjust to adversity and keep going. We read that Jesus Christ also endured the cross and many other areas of suffering. We are told that God is involved in correcting and chastening us. Even that correction requires our patience and steady endurance. That is how we build the character that pleases God. We are told to keep our paths straight and steady and to look diligently lest we fail. A ship needs a constant check for course and conditions. Unseen currents have an effect, as do the conditions that may be obvious, like the wind. Our lives are filled with both unseen and visible forces. We need to cope with them and never lose sight of our goal and the determination to get there.

Never give up

It is predictable that we go through a mental desire to stop; we feel alone and wonder if what we are doing is worth it all. We need reassurance from time to time; thus, the stories are recorded for us in the Bible. We are also encouraged by those steadfast people who are living today. Parents, grandparents and the ministry are some of the people we look to as examples of steadfast behavior. When we do not find good examples there, we become disappointed and sometimes deeply hurt. In Romans 8:33-39 Romans 8:33-39 [33] Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. [34] Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [36] As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Paul expressed that our true faith and trust must lie in God and in our Savior Jesus Christ. In every situation, our Father is there to encourage and strengthen us with His love and help. Our part lies in recognizing the goal and determining to stay the course with the knowledge that God is watching and will intervene when He knows it is best for us.

We must develop endurance in our lives. Many people now living and who will live in the future are depending on you and me to do that. We are the examples for those who follow. The next time you see a sailing ship tacking into the wind, perhaps you will see yourself. Always continue to move toward the safe harbor, the Kingdom of God, which God has prepared for us. 

To read more about how to stay on course, request the booklet, The Road to Eternal Life.

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