I can tell we’ve become more flexible. We used to plan out our entire lives and now I can’t even tell you what we’re doing tomorrow. Or in five minutes, for that matter. Jay says, “Be ready to head to the boat,” and the kids pack a bag and put their shoes on and stand on the rug by the front door. I ring the ship’s bell and all hands are suddenly on deck, ready for a meal or further instructions. Jay says, “Stand ready with the boat hook to grab the spring line,” and everything goes like clockwork.
When we packed up yesterday for our weekly trip to Bradenton, I didn’t know if we were staying for the day or the whole weekend. So I packed extra clothes and food, just in case. Up until the last moment, I thought we were going to eat dinner and head home. Then we ended up staying the night, and got to try out our new coffee percolator the next morning. Last weekend, I canceled plans to drive my sister to Naples so I could take a “now or never” weekend sailing class on docking, anchoring and man-overboard maneuvers. This kind of loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of life would have driven me mad before, but now it just makes me laugh. It’s the first time in my life I am not signed up for anything, leading anything or teaching anything (besides homeschool!). No commitments beyond being committed to learning to sail and live aboard this worthy vessel.
It reminds me of our move to Florida. We had laid carefully-timed plans: Sarah would be born at the end of April, Jay would fly to Tampa for a job interview, and we would close on our house and move at the end of May. But the job fell through, the buyer fell through, and Sarah was late. We had almost made a local move the previous January, but both felt misgivings and backed out. That left the door open for a move to Florida, but then that didn’t seem to be working out either. What were we supposed to do? We asked God for guidance and ended up more confused than before. So we threw up our hands, said, “Whatever,” and waited. God worked out the details better than we ever could have through a series of carefully-orchestrated coincidences. When we moved, it was God who moved us; not our plan, but His. All He required of us was to be available to go or stay as He worked it out.
When moving the boat this evening from her hurricane slip back to the dock end, I stood at the ready, boat hook in hand, and waited for Jay’s guidance. We ended up grabbing the bow line instead of the spring line amidships as planned, but I was ready and waiting, so it went smoothly. I think that is what God is asking of us. To be free is to be ready and available, patiently waiting for whatever comes next. Sometimes at a moment’s notice, the vista changes and we must be open to that, since we can’t see the Big Picture.
Part of this readiness is freeing ourselves from obligations (debt, schedules and commitments, stuff, etc.) and the other part is pure flexibility—being ready to change our plans mid-stream without whining and trying to get our own way. For us that means being surrendered to doing things God’s way and making space for Him to work. We must build in margins—financial, time, energy, and otherwise. Jay and I realize we can’t just “go” at the word because we owe debt, own a house and have not settled all our land business. It behooves us to do that as quickly as possible because if God says, “Now!” and we aren’t ready, the plan will not go off without a hitch. It would be like trying to pull out of a boat slip with dock lines still attached.
But that wisdom is not just for us. All of us can be made more available—more attuned to the purpose of our existence. We all have something that holds us back—often our own desire for control and security. In order to open ourselves to a more rewarding and fulfilling life, we have to let go of that control and grasping for safety, for sameness, and embrace uncertainty.