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April-May 2016


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Setting Sail

By Norma J. Goldman


There is something special, exciting, about a ship ready to sail. For some, it is anticipation about the journey itself—a new place or country not previously visited. God hard-wired His children to be adventurers, to look beyond current circumstances to the possibilities of unexplored opportunities. We may be saddened to part with those left behind, but we anticipate joy when loved ones return. There is sometimes uncertainty, not knowing what lies ahead.

In Scripture and in many gospel songs we find these images of a ship ready to sail or already at sea. I can never get far from the encouraging words of “I Will Pilot Thee,” an old gospel conversation between Jesus and someone navigating the treacherous waters of life. “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; I will still thy pilot be. Never mind the tossing billows; take my hand and trust in me.”

For some, setting sail is a literal reality. Earthly goods and treasures are left behind as a family leaves their known world of comfort and security to begin a new chapter in a foreign land, under the direction of God’s Spirit. Such is the case with French-speaking missionaries Kurt and Julia, empty nesters who will soon begin a new work with college students in France.

For others, setting sail is a figure of speech. They may leave a settled place of work, led by the Lord into a new, much-anticipated chapter of life that will stretch them emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is the case with my dear friends, Ray and Ida Lewis, who recently retired after faithfully serving Free Will Baptists for 32 amazing years. They’ve set sail on a new adventure of faith—retirement—which will surely lead them to a new place of service.

My own recent “voyage” involved moving from my home of many years in Nashville, Tennessee, where I enjoyed serving my wonderful church, interacting with a much-loved group in Bible study, and writing, my great love. It was a difficult voyage, and I confess I had little joy in setting sail. But here, on the other side, I have seen God work in so many ways, I cannot doubt His plan and leadership in bringing me to a new place of abundant opportunity.

The point is this: setting sail (literally or metaphorically) is a natural, normal part of the Christian life. Sometimes, we meet our next journey (assignment) with stubborn resistance; other times with indescribable joy. Sometimes, we question our adequacy to meet the challenge; other times we are confused about God’s purposes for unexpected journeys.

John Sammis beautifully described the challenges of being obedient followers in his gospel song, “Trust and Obey.” How awesome is our God who always has our good at heart, who is able to see ahead—across waters, over mountains, and through deep valleys—wherever our travels take us! How generous He is to allow us to use our gifts and skills in new ways and new settings so we might anchor all we are and have in Him.

No matter the size of the ship, the purpose of the voyage, or its destination, if Jesus is at the helm, He promises safety and peace. That does not mean we won’t encounter storms, but it does mean He will be with us through the storms. Who is at the helm of your ship? Do you trust Him? What is your next port of call? Set Sail!


About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful writing career in her retirement from her home near Houston, Texas. Learn more about enjoying retirement at






©2016 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists