Sailboats and Rowboats

I’ll start with a confession…  I wasn’t going to post this week, I’m so tired that I was going to give myself some grace and not write anything, have a day off..

But then all day this thought that I read about in someone else’s blog* has been in my head, and it’s ministered to me so much and so deeply that I thought I’d share it with you, just in case you needed to hear it too…

“You are designed to be a sail boat, not a rowing boat”

I love this so much.  I love that all the power to do anything God asks me to do comes from him.  I love that I was never meant to serve him out of my own strength, out of my own effort.

My job is to put up the sail, his job is to provide the wind –  so simple, and so true.

No-one who has ever sailed a boat would want to row it across the lake instead.  No-one who has felt the exhilaration of catching the wind and feeling a boat suddenly accelerate across the water would prefer to slowly drag heavy oars.  It’s not that sailing is effortless, but it is less effort than rowing, and so much faster and so much more fun!

I know this.

And yet when I am tired, when life seems overwhelming, when everything is a bit too much – that’s when I start rowing.


Honestly, how sad is it that I pronounce myself too tired to put up a sail and then pick up the oars?  That when I have no strength, that’s when I start trying to do things in my own strength? I’m smiling as I write this, partly because it is just that ridiculous and partly because I can hear the theme of what God has been saying to me for weeks echoing in the words.  I’m clearly a slow learner.

When you realise your hands are empty, when you come to the end of yourself – that’s a good place, that’s when he can begin.

So this is my new piece of advice to myself:

Whatever you do, don’t try to row.

Grab hold of whatever strength you have left, and use it – to walk into his presence and to put up your sail.


And if you find there’s no wind today, no power to help you move forwards, don’t panic – it just means that today is a day to be still. To be still and know that you are you and God is God.

and that’s OK.

*This postcard was inspired by a great blog I follow written by theologian, teacher and asker-of-awkward-questions, Ian Paul… I painted the picture straight away and put it on the wall because I knew it was such an important bit of life to me –  you can read the original here.

5 thoughts on “Sailboats and Rowboats”

  1. I’m glad you put this on the blog. Have been going over and over yesterday interview,wondering if I said the right things. If I am to sail this journey, the Holy Spirit will fill the sails! Thank you.x


  2. This morning at church we sang “Jesus be the Centre”, I felt stopped in my tracks when we got to the lyrics “be the wind in my sails”. Your postcard image came straight to mind. I think God is trying to tell me something here! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely Ellie mou. Thank you. Confirmed in Greg’s word today. The Lord is speaking & we need to be listeners & doers of what He is saying………


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