Charting a New Course

Charting a New Course

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 life.

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 opposite direction. If you really believe what you say you believe, then why would you continue sailing in a direction that does not square with the Scriptures ? 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 added).

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.

Bon Voyage!

Copyright @ 2017 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide.

About the author


Pastor Chuck Swindoll

Pastor Chuck Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Since 1998, he has served as the senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, but Chuck’s listening audience extends beyond a local church body. As a leading program in Christian broadcasting since 1979, Insight for Living airs around the world. Chuck’s leadership as president and now chancellor emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry.

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