Whenever we’re about to head out from a bay, Rob and I have specific jobs. He gets the sail cover off, hoists the dinghy and sets all the lines in all the right places. I make sure that everything inside is safely stowed and all the hatches are closed. When it comes to lifting the anchor, Rob sits on the helm and I set the anchor winch in motion from the bow. Lifting the anchor is usually a straight-forward job. Depending on the wind and tides, there might be a bit of manoeuvring required to reduce strain on the winch, but for the most part, it’s a fairly uneventful process. Unless, of course, something is tangled in the chain.
If we’ve been at anchor in the same place for several days, the tide can sometimes cause fishing line and debris to get tangled between the chain links. The longer we stay in one place, the more entangled the debris can become. While we’re sitting at anchor, the tangled lines have no impact, but as soon as we lift the chain, they can get caught in the winch and literally stop us from moving on.
Yesterday we were lifting the anchor in 20 knot winds. We weren’t exactly in a storm, but the wind gusts made standing on the bow a little uncomfortable. I definitely needed to hang on as I set the winch in motion! As I watched the anchor chain roll in, I made hand-signals to Rob telling him which way to manoeuvre the boat and I carefully counted the coloured marks signalling how much chain remained.
At about the 20-metre mark, a huge birds-nest of tangled fishing line came up over the bow. So, I stopped the winch, grabbed the emergency knife and set about cutting the line free. All the while, Rob was trying to hold the boat in position, and I was carefully working to ensure the line didn’t fall back in the water. It took several minutes, but I finally got the line untangled and we were back in business.
As I reflected on the event, I realised that if we sit too long in one place or one project, our hearts and minds can often get entangled in debris too. We start to think that we know how everything works, and if we try to move on, our preconceived ideas can jam everything up. We may have someone else at the helm trying to keep the project in position, but unless we cut ourselves free of assumptions and experiences that build up over time, we can never fully move forward.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, God says to the people of Israel, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. In other words: Yes, I did great things in the past, but that’s not the end of it and it’s not all I can do. Trust me, I can do even better things!
If we keep dwelling in the past and harking back to the way things have always been done, we’re not giving God space to do even better things. We need to cut away our thinking that says “this is as good as it gets” and let God perform new miracles for His glory. Behold, He is doing a new thing!
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV)