When a new year begins, it can feel like you’re headed into open
seas—excitement mixed with uncertainty, adventure coupled with the
unknown. Seasoned sailors insist nothing compares to those exhilarating
moments. The bow of the vessel slips out past the breakwaters and takes its
first plunge into the wild waves of the wide ocean.
Sounds both wonderful and challenging, doesn’t it?
Life often feels like that . . . especially a life of following the Lord.
Before heading out into the uncharted waters of a new career, an exciting
new relationship, a new city, or a difficult cross-cultural ministry,
it’s important to “trim the sails” of your spiritual
Here are three essentials for charting your new course this year:
First, check your compass. James wrote: “Don’t just
listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are
only fooling yourselves” (James 1:22). There is no more reliable
compass for charting a new course in this New Year than the Word of God.
But, you dare not glance at the Scriptures and then point your boat in the
If you really believe what you say you believe, then why would you
continue sailing in a direction that does not square with the
? Make obeying God’s Word in 2017 your fixed point. It will keep you
on an even keel when the seas of doubt intensify . . . or the waves of
hardship churn . . . or the fog of discouragement rolls in.
Another wonderful thing about using God’s Word as your compass for
the New Year? It removes the guesswork. You won’t have to wonder if
you’re on course. God’s written compass will keep you sailing
in the right direction.
Second, stock up on necessary supplies. Jesus said,
“‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It
becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal
life’” (John 4:13–14). You don’t want to run low on
spiritual reserves when you get out into the depths of 2017. Store up those
principles and promises you can easily turn to in your Bible as the winds
of trouble increase. Confidence and hope will emerge as you pray,
participate in corporate worship, and glean wisdom from your own personal
study of the Scriptures. Like living water, these things will energize and
stabilize you during those inevitable storms that the New Year will include.
Third, assemble a trustworthy crew. Never venture into open waters
alone. Ever. Cultivate close relationships with “seasoned
sailors”—mature believers who really know the Bible . . .
people you trust to journey with you in prayer and to provide calm wisdom
and reliable counsel. In heavier seas, individuals who know the ropes can
help you stay the course. Whenever I grow weary sailing against a headwind,
I look to Hebrews 3:12–13 as a mainstay: “Be careful then, dear
brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and
unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is ‘today,’ so that none
of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God” (emphasis
Isn’t that great? God doesn’t expect us to go it alone. So fill
up your boat and choose your crew wisely. I recommend you include a couple
“old salts” to help you avoid those hidden reefs that can
result in personal shipwreck.
Once you’ve checked your compass, prepared your supply list, and
gathered your crew you’re ready to weigh anchor and head out. Let me
add a shout: GOOD FOR YOU! Too many Christians choose to remain safely
moored in the shallow waters of life’s risk-free harbor. I’m
glad you’ve chosen to launch out into the deep and chart a new course
in the next twelve months. (Don’t forget to sing some songs and have
some fun along the way!)
Finally, remember this: Whatever it is you are about to do, be assured of
the Lord’s presence. With Him as your skipper, you never sail solo.