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Crosfigell

The Spirit Who Drives and Leads

He's the same Who drives and leads us.

The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (13)

Brendan spake to them and said: “Fear not,” said he, “for we have God Himself as our guide and helper. And ship your oars and do not toil or labour; and God will guide His own boat and company as He pleases.” And Brendan and his company...got a steady wind... 

  - Anonymous, Vita Brendani, Irish, 12th century[1]

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

  - John 3.8

Brendan of Clonfert (fl. ca. 560 AD) received the charge from Finnian of Clonard to take the Gospel westward over the Atlantic. He assembled a company of men and constructed a vessel of animal hides, in which he and his companions departed for points unknown.

Brendan’s story is part history but mostly allegory. The Vita Brendani and the Navigatio Brendani, while probably offering true aspects of Brendan’s mission, are mostly intended to point readers to the hope of the City to Come, and to encourage them to faith, obedience, and consistent spiritual discipline during their journey in this life.

Nevertheless, important spiritual insights sparkle through from time to time in this story, as suggested by the excerpt for today. Shortly after departing Ireland, Brendan and his men dug mightily with their oars into the cold waters of the North Atlantic, but they could make no headway and were becoming discouraged.

They had just set off, in obedience to God’s leading, to seek the Promised Land of the Saints west over the ocean. And now, barely into the beginning of their journey, it seemed like the ocean itself, onto which the Lord had sent them, was trying to thwart their mission.

Brendan knew that, despite their struggle, God would take them where He intended them to go. They needed to trust in Him, and not their own strength. So he instructed his men to ship their oars, and to hoist the sail of their leather boat. They would let the steady wind of God blow them where He would.

And He did, to many adventures, each of which illustrates some aspect of the journey of faith and the life of discipline.

Our lives are like that sometimes. We think we know where God wants us to go, and we work and pray and fret and fuss to get there, but we don’t seem to be making much progress. In fact, what looked in prospect like such “smooth sailing” has become a stormy, stubborn sea instead.

But this doesn’t mean we’re out of the will of God, only that He wants to move us forward in a way other than we might have chosen or preferred.

If you’re seeking the Lord, truly seeking Him, even your troubled waters may be precisely where the Spirit is blowing. Look for the Spirit’s leading – what He’s trying to do in your life – and rest in His power to keep you moving forward. Look to His goals – spiritual fruit, transformation into the likeness of Christ, bold witness for the Lord. Understand how He works to enable you to walk by faith and not by sight, and hoist the sails of faith into His wind, as He guides you by God’s Word and fills you with Jesus’ power.

The steady wind of God’s Spirit blows through the pages of His Word and the corridors of your soul, in the still small voice of prompts and nudges that come in the quiet moments of life, and sometimes through circumstances that just don't work out the way we’d hoped (Acts 16.6, 7). 

At such times we need to resort to whatever will catch the current of God’s Spirit – especially prayer, searching the Scriptures, seeking wise counsel, and waiting in silence on the Lord. The Spirit of God is always blowing toward the realization of God’s good and perfect plan. He is always driving us into the wilderness of testing and onto the mission fields of sowing and harvest. We will realize God’s plan best and enjoy its fullest fruit and blessings as we seek the Spirit, are filled with the Spirit, wait on the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit – following His steady wind wherever He wants to take us.

Of course, there will be work to do, even as you catch the steady wind of God’s Spirit. But the better we know the Spirit and how He works (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Jn. 16.8-11), and the more we bring our lives into line with His purposes (Acts 1.8; Eph. 2.19-22), the more our lives and work will sail in the channel of His power, toward progress in the Kingdom of our Lord.

If progress seems slow and life is wearing you down, make sure your sails are hoisted into the wind of the Spirit, and wait to see where that Steady Wind of God will take you.

For Reflection
1. How would you summarize the “course” God’s Spirit has charted for your life?

2. What should you do when you feel as if you’re having difficulty making progress in that course?

Psalm 86.7-9 (Andrews: Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven)
When in my trouble, Lord, I call You,
You answer me, there is none like You!
There are no words like Yours, and all whom
You have created shall worship You.
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord be gracious to me,
All shall glory give to You!

But I don’t like waiting in silence, Lord; I’m much too busy, too inclined to do something, anything, to get off the dime! Help me, Jesus, to follow Your Spirit as I…

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter.
You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

[1] Plummer, p. 53.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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