Trimming Your Sails (5)
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2.9
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3.2, 3
The destination always in view
On the wall in my study hangs a world map that dates from early in the 19th century, a gift to Susie and me from a friend. A series of marks traces a somewhat jagged but determined line from Australia under the tip of South America to England, recording the voyage of the ship Golden City, somewhere around 1830, from Sydney to London. They were entered by a passenger day by day to mark the progress of his journey home, perhaps to his beloved.
We can imagine how difficult that journey must have been – the daily drudgery of life at sea, the poor quality of food, the need to keep oneself busy, the lack of privacy, and the dangers of being on the ocean in a wooden vessel. It is obvious that the ship’s captain and navigator understood how to make best use of the winds, since the Golden City made steady progress over many days. But at times, the ship appears to have sailed into contrary winds, especially about half-way through, when a sudden change of direction required a two-day course correction.
How that gentleman must have delighted to mark the ship’s progress day by day. Each day the anticipation of seeing his beloved and being reunited with her would have increased. When he took the time to envision her face and to meditate on the delight of her presence, the difficulties of the journey would have become more bearable. The more those marks accumulated on the map, and the more of that line he filled in, the more his desire for home and beloved must have increased as well.
This man’s record of his journey offers practical advice for us in our journey with the Lord. If we keep the sails of our soul adjusted to gather the Wind of God, we may expect to make the kind of progress in faith that Jonathan Edwards explained in his sermon, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God: growing esteem for Jesus and confidence in the Gospel; daily victories over temptations and the lies of the devil; increased love for God’s Word, combined with a growing hunger for and delight in His truth; and love for God and our neighbors more consistently expressed in all our words and deeds.
It will help us in our journey of faith, and in keeping the sails of our soul trimmed for the Wind of God, to settle on some markers of our own, to record our journey and to show us, day by day, that we are on course with the Lord and making real progress in our calling to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12).
The first of those marks is a growing vision of our Beloved and our homeland.
The vision of Christ
Both the writer of Hebrews and the apostle John encourage us to “see Jesus” and to look forward with increasing anticipation of seeing Him “as He is”, radiant with glory, robed in majesty, brilliant in light and strength, transforming us day by day into that same likeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Paul wrote that the hardships he had to bear in his own journey with the Lord were not to be compared with the vision of unseen things he kept before him, and the weight of glory he anticipated knowing when his journey was through (2 Cor. 4.6, 16-18).
How clear is your vision of Christ, exalted in glory? Do you see His flame-lit eyes? The glory that radiates from His face? Does He extend to you His scepter of uprightness, inviting you to come closer and become more like Him? Do His splendor, majesty, power, and strength take your breath away? Can you see yourself, seated with Him at the right hand of God, seeing all the vast cosmos and all the nations of the world in a single ray of sun? Do you hear the continuous, joyous singing of saints and angels? The praise and applause of uncountable departed saints? The continuous and sub-aural drone of His never-ceasing Word, as it holds the entire universe together and keeps it going?
And do you see Jesus, in this infinitely glorious landscape, in every page and passage of the Scriptures, looking out on you and beckoning you into His Presence of light, warmth, peace, and joy?
I doubt our traveling gentleman would have had an actual photo or painting of his wife. All he had were his memory and his imagination. That was enough to lead him to mark the days of his passage with growing anticipation and joy.
But we have more. We have the Word of God. We have the works of Christ throughout the creation. We have fellow-travelers who also are looking to Jesus, striving toward Jesus, longing for the day when we will see Him face-to-face. We can be sure that the Wind of God’s Spirit blows to fill our memories and imaginations with the glorious vision of Christ, revealed continuously all around us. To the extent that we keep this vision before us, and nourish and enlarge it day by day, we can mark progress in our journey toward our Beloved.
The vision of our homeland
As much as our gentleman traveler longed to be in his wife’s presence, so he also looked forward to seeing his homeland. Australia was not his home. The decks and cabins of the Golden City were not his home. His home was London, the greatest city in the world in its day, a city of culture, friends, beauty, order, and delight, which he was eager to enjoy.
This world is not our home. We are travelers and pilgrims to an ultimate destination where all will be glorious and upright and holy and good. Lions will lie down with lambs. Children will delight to play with serpents. Music and art and gardens and good things of every sort will be available to us, without any of the blight or stains or ugliness that mark our day. And the King, our Beloved, will give light to every place, so that there are no more shadows, fears, sorrows, or tears. Do we see that glorious Kingdom in all its fullness? Do we long for it earnestly? Seek it daily? Proclaim its present and coming greatness, and the King Who rules over it, to all the people in our lives?
We expect to make daily progress in and toward the City of our God, and we can mark that progress in our lives by the evidence of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit that issues from our soul in all our words and deeds (Rom. 14.17, 18). The Spirit of God blows against our souls to bring the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven; we can know that we are tacking on His course as the power of the Kingdom becomes more visible in us day by day (1 Cor. 4.20).
I encourage you to begin marking your journey with the Lord today – in prayer, times of meditation, in a journal or diary, by sharing with friends, through singing, and by quiet and persistent envisioning of our King and the City to Come.
1. What are you presently doing to measure your progress in your walk with and work for the Lord?
2. What can you do to make the vision of Christ and the eternal City more constant in the sails of your soul?
3. How can you help your fellow believers to be more diligent in setting the Lord always before them (Ps. 16.8)?
Next steps – Preparation: What can you begin doing today, and every day, to fix your heart, mind, and conscience more on Christ and His Kingdom?
T. M. Moore
Resources for the Journey
If you missed our ReVision series, “We Would See Jesus,” you can download all four installments by clicking here. Our newest book, What in Heaven is Jesus Doing on Earth?, can help you to “see Jesus” as He continues His work at the right hand of God. Order your copy by clicking here. For a sweeping study of the unseen realm and the world to come, order our workbook, The Landscape of Unseen Things, by clicking here. And you can learn how our Celtic Christian forebears saw Jesus by working through the 28 days of meditations in Be Thou My Vision (click here).
Thanks to our Lord!
Will you join us to give thanks to God for His faithful support of our ministry, and to ask Him whether you should participate in this opportunity? If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.