Instead of tacking, I prefer a straightforward, timely arrival from point A to point B. But the wind doesn’t “push” the sail, I’m told. It “pulls” it. When the wind is contrary to sailing in a straight line or even when it comes towards you from the same direction you wish to go, it becomes necessary to make angular moves forward, switching the direction of the boat to enable the sail to catch the wind and arrive, finally, at your destination. Tacking.
My husband was excited to share a sailing experience with his bride who had never once been on a sailboat. I studied the names for the parts of the boat and quizzed myself on every term possible, but nothing compared to seeing the wind on the water before it reached the sail, or the corrections made as the boat heeled to 30 degrees. It was time to tack.
Since sailing was the only way to travel in the day of the Apostle Paul, I’m certain the vessels in which he sailed performed the nautical terms of trimming the sails and tacking. We, also, read in Acts that he sailed here to get there to get somewhere else to put in here, shipwreck there, get on another ship, sail to yet another place. This is a different sort of tacking…Christian life tacking. In God’s economy, I think He must care more about people than the timely arrival at destinations. Paul witnessed to people along the way, preached the Gospel, shared his testimony of conversion, challenged the religious, touched the sick by the power of the Holy Spirit, and even shook off a viper.
After my sailing adventure, I have come to realize that many times the forward motion of a Christ follower also requires an altered course guided by the Captain of our souls. He knows the waters. He sees the wind. He knows when we need to trim our sails, and He knows when we need to tack.
Note: The book of Acts records many travels of the Apostle Paul, such as Acts 20:14, 15. His was a life of tacking, both in ships and as a Christ follower.
“And when he (Paul) met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus.”