Trailering a Boat
By Michael Stephanides
Trailering a boat, or anything for that matter can be challenging – as well as quite comical. I went fishing with my sons the other day and watched as someone attempted to back their new boat down the ramp. Stifling laughter I watched the boat go left, go right, and for the most part never in the direction intended. Left is right, right is left, pull forward, back up again and again, finally landing said boat in the water albeit on a 45* angle. On the other hand, I saw many boaters leaving as well. The boats peacefully following the exact path of the car in a seamless and peacefully path, directly connected to a small 2” ball-coupling.
For some, our walk with Christ can have a similar appearance. How many of us see religion as a way of living our life for Christ and resting in Him? We get so caught up in the law, the do’s and don’ts; so busy with the ‘doing’ we completely forget who we are to be coupled with. God must get a chuckle as we frantically attempt to ‘back our religious selves’ through life much like the boater at the ramp.
In the gospel of Mark (10:17-22), there is a parable of a rich young ruler who runs to Christ asking Him what more he can do to inherit eternal life. Christ tells him to keep the last six of ten commandments on ‘human to human’ relationships. To which the young ruler quickly responds that he has kept these since youth. And Christ looks on him with love and states, ‘you lack one thing, go and sell all your possessions and follow me’. The young ruler goes away sad for he had many possessions. This young ruler had perfected the ‘art of backing up his trailer’, the letter of the law, yet missed the spirit of the law, which is our relationship to Christ.
Just as in the Ten Commandments, the first four are our relationship with Him, followed by our relationship with our fellow man. In a similar story in the gospel of Luke we see a lawyer asking Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life;
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:25-27
The relationship with God comes first and is the small coupling to the ‘trailer’ that follows– our service to our neighbor. It is so easy to get lost in the ‘doing’ that we lose sight of Him whom we serve. Our works should be a by-product of our relationship to Christ, not something we do to earn eternal life like the young ruler, or the lawyer who was seeking God’s grace. It is a gift. It is free, although it comes with a tremendous cost. It is free to all who will believe. I believe that God gives us the commandments to remind us of our insatiable need for His grace and mercy, as well as a reminder of the order we are to follow. His yoke is easy, and He will give us rest, and life in Him will be like a boat leaving the ramp at the end of a beautiful day.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
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Michael Stephanides is a resident of Morganton NC, and has lived there with his wife of 30 years. They have had the privilege of raising 3 biological children, and one adopted child, ages 24-29. Their daughters are married to great men, and they have 2 beautiful grandchildren. Michael and his wife are members of Summit Community Church in Morganton.