“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear’” (Matthew 13:1-9).

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As I was praying at church a few Sunday mornings ago, the Holy Spirit came to me with a vision. I was standing behind the wheel on an old style wooden ship. A terrible storm was ensuing, and the ship was being tossed violently by the waves; the wind and the rain beat against me. I don’t know whether it was nighttime, or the storm, but it was dark. First I took hold of the wheel and tried to steer the boat by myself, but the force of the storm and the waves made it impossible to maintain course. Just as soon as I would get control, the wind would blow and the waves would crash against the ship, and I would lose control of the wheel. Next I let go of the wheel and put steering entirely in God’s hands, yet the ship continued to be tossed violently as before. Finally I took hold of the wheel, together with God, and the ship could be steered, despite the storm; the storm had not gone away.

You might think the account of Peter and Jesus on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-33) would be the scripture put on my heart with this vision, but it was actually the Parable of the Sower. “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear’” (Matthew 13:1-9). But when I think about the question I asked God that morning, the Parable of the Sower makes perfect sense. The question I asked, and I believe God was answering with the vision, was how we stay aligned in his will. Fighting distractions can be hard enough in prayer let alone during the course of a normal day.

Taking hold of the wheel and trying to steer the boat by myself was relying on myself apart from God. Letting go of the wheel and putting steering entirely in God’s hands was a reaction to becoming overwhelmed by my circumstances; I gave up. Taking hold of the wheel, together with God, was the only way to keep the ship on course. Neither does God want me to rely on my own strength, nor does he want me to throw in the towel. God wants to work with me and through me, as is the case with all of his children. Life is more than our distractions, more than the storm, and this is why God doesn’t always take our storms away in an instantaneous miraculous act. God works with us and through us and miracles happen everyday. A simple lesson of faith, growth, and obedience that I hope won’t take me an entire lifetime to learn. I’m grateful to embrace the Sower in a new way.

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