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Need To Be Towed?

Charles Knowlton (1927-2013)
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In my younger years, I served aboard a ship of the United States Navy. Navy ships were always in one of three conditions—they were either underway, anchored, or in need of assistance in the form of a push or tow.  This is true of any working vessel. In the commercial world, a ship under power is productive. If it is anchored, it is doing nothing. If it needs assistance, it is usually helpless. Have you ever felt like you were in any of these conditions?

We often find this pattern in people’s lives. Some seem to be underway and productive—working hard, getting things together, making progress. Others seem to be anchored and “resting” in place. Finally, some appear to need a push or shove. Many in this last category are unaware of their need, but others are searching desperately, crying out their “S.O.S.” This is especially painful to see, especially when it involves people’s spiritual lives.

What can we say about productive people who are like moving ships? God clearly expects His people to reach this point in their lives.  We read: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The instruction here is to move forward in Christian life with power and strength. God’s calling requires Christians to be “under power” to fulfill their calling.

What about those who are anchored in place? Notice how Christ described people who become unproductive: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). When the water gets rough, they quickly “drop anchor”—as did the lazy servant in Christ’s parable of the talents: “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money” (Matthew 25:18). Far from being productive, some people simply quit willfully—they stop working, or in their spiritual lives stop praying, studying or attending church. Some even give up on God completely.

Then, we have what appears to be a very large group—the ones who only seem able to move under the assistance of another. In the book of Acts, we find a powerful example of one such person. When the Ethiopian came reading about Isaiah, the Lord sent Philip to him (Acts 8:26). Asked if he understood, the Ethiopian replied, to Philip, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (v. 31). When Philip preached the gospel, the Ethiopian was quickly baptized, and he set out on a new course in life: one that brought him great joy and purpose (vv. 38-40). And all it took was a little nudge.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). Do you heed this advice? Do you go out of your way to assist and encourage others? Or, if you are in need, has anyone helped you in a meaningful way? It is no shame to ask for help, but it is a shame to quit dead in the water.  Pridefulness is not a Christian quality, as Paul reminds us: “For you see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). We are not so great as to be above asking for help, nor should we ever be above giving help to those who need us.

A little help goes a long way—especially when we feel weak or helpless. And by the power of God’s Spirit—the ultimate help (John 14:16)—even the weak may plot a course toward eternal life.  Read our eye-opening booklet Your Ultimate Destiny, and start moving forward today!