Spiritual Sailing Part 5: Storms at Sea

Jonah 1:4
       The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was likely to be broken.

 WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): When at any time thou art sick of thy work, and ready to think with Jonas to run from it, encourage thyself…Fall to the work God sets thee about, and thou engagest His strength for thee. The way of the Lord is strength, Proverbs 10:29. Run from thy work and thou engageth God’s strength against thee; He will send some some storm or other after thee to bring home His runaway servant.

 JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Guilt is [sometimes] that Jonah in the ship, for whose sake storms, shipwrecks, and ruin pursue it. It is said, Psalm 148:8, that the stormy winds fulfil God’s word. If the word there spoken of be the word of God’s threatening against sin, as some expound it, then the stormy winds and lofty waves, are God’s sergeants sent out with commission to arrest sinners upon the sea, his water-bailiffs to execute the threatenings of God upon them, in the greet deeps.

 THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): Beware of any standing controversy betwixt God and you; for if there be such, it will stare you in the face in a dying hour.

 C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): But, my friend, are you drifting? Do you say, “I am not distinctly sailing for heaven, neither am I resolutely steering in the other direction. I do not quite know what to say of myself?” Are you drifting, then? Are you like a vessel which is left to the mercy of the winds and the waves? Ignoble condition! Perilous case! What! Are you no more than a log on the water? I should not like to be a passenger in a vessel which had no course marked out on the chart, no pilot at the wheel, no man at watch. Surely, you must be derelict, if not water-logged; and you will come to a total wreck before long.
      Examine yourselves, my dear friends, because, if you are in doubt now, the speediest way to get rid of your doubts and fears is by self-examination…Look at the captain over yonder. He is in his ship, and he says to the sailors, “You must sail very warily and carefully, and be upon your watch, for to tell you the truth, I do not know where I am; I do not exactly know my latitude and longitude, and there may be rocks very close ahead, and we may soon have the ship broken up.” He goes down into the cabin, he searches the chart, he takes an inspection of the heavens, he comes up again, and he says, “Hoist every sail, and go along as merrily as you please, I have discovered where we are; the water is deep, and there is a wide sea room; there is no need for you to be in any trouble, searching has satisfied me.” And how happy will it be with you, if, after having searched yourself you can say, “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.” Why, then you will go along merrily and joyfully, because the search has had a good result.
      And what if it should have a bad result? Better that you should find it out now than find it out too late. One of the prayers I often pray, and desire to pray as long as I live, is this,—“Lord, let me know the worst of my case. If I have been living in a false comfort, Lord, rend it away; let me know just what I am and where I am, and rather let me think too harshly of my condition before Thee than think too securely, and so be ruined by presumption.”

 WILLIAM GURNALL: Faith may live in a storm, but it will not suffer a storm to live in it. As faith rises, so the blustering wind of the discontented troublesome thoughts go down. Faith relieves the soul in prayer of that which oppresses it; whereas the unbelieving soul still carries about it the cause of its troubles, because it had not strength to cast forth its sorrows and roll its cares upon God.

 MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The classic example of this, of course, is John Wesley prior to his conversion. He, in a sense, knew all about religion, but while crossing the Atlantic, and in a terrible storm which seemed to be leading to certain death, he felt that he had nothing. He was afraid to die and afraid of everything. And what struck him was the contrast presented by the Moravian Brethren who were in the same ship. They were in comparison with Wesley ignorant men, but their religion meant something real and vital to them. It held them in the storm, and gave them peace and calmness, and indeed joy, even face to face with death. Wesley’s religion appeared to be excellent. He gave all his goods to the poor, he preached in prisons, and he had crossed the Atlantic to preach to pagans in Georgia. He was a man of immense knowledge of things religious. And yet the trial revealed to him and to others the nature of his religion, and showed it to be worthless. A time of crisis, then, tests us and our religion.

 JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): It is now [February, 1738]―two years and almost four months since I left my native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity: but what have I learned myself in the mean time? Why―what I the least of all suspected―that I who went to America to convert others, was never myself converted to God. I am not mad, though I thus speak; but I speak “the words of truth and soberness;” if haply some of those who still dream may awake, and see, that as I am, so are they.

 C. H. SPURGEON: A man who is afraid to examine himself, may rest assured that his ship is rotten, and that it will be not long before it founders in the sea, to his eternal shipwreck.

 WILLIAM GURNALL: We must not spread our sails of profession in a calm and furl them up when the wind rises.

 THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Hypocrites cannot sail in stormy weather.


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