In His loving generosity, God has given me nonagenarian waters—my calendar nineties—in which to navigate. Many others are navigating octogenarian waters, septuagenarian waters, and sexagenarian waters. They are my friends, loved ones, and peers.
Each of us has some similar challenges and some unique ones according to the level of their waters and our life destiny. If we admit it, we all need help in navigating. Navigating is not just paddling around aimlessly in our own canoe or drifting merrily, merrily, gently down the stream. It is not reckless motor boating. To navigate is defined: to plot, ascertain, direct, or manage a ship to keep on its course; to control its position in relation to its destination; to cross a body of water safely and soberly. A navigator is a person who is skilled and experienced in navigation.
In spiritual analogy, I'm not a skilled or experienced navigator. Regardless of how many years I've lived, I have never lived in my nineties before. These are new waters! I know my Eternal Destination but the nautical miles between here and There are fraught with uncertainty, the weather is changeable, the gathering clouds seem ominous, my ship is quite ancient, and I feel as if I am running short of fuel. I'm sending a distress signal for help—S.O.S.
I woke up this morning with the words of a classic hymn occupying my mind. Who better than the famous Mahalia Jackson to interpret it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb-yn859ZUo
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
When the darkened heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
It doesn't matter at whatever calendar level -genarian any of us is, we reach the point where wisdom dictates that we turn over the helm to Jesus, the Wondrous Sovereign of the sea, and let Him steer our life craft.
Nor does it matter whether we've been navigating through life with sails which are beginning to tatter, or we feel as if we've been frantically rowing our boat in circles, or we've been lumbering through life like a ponderous steamboat now running out of steam, or we've been plowing through life's decades like an unwieldy ocean liner trying to avoid the icebergs with a broken compass, we come to face the reality that our human energy is depleted. The weather forecast is threatening. We can't see clearly what's ahead. “Unknown waves before us roll, hiding rocks and treacherous shoal.” In our stress and distress we need Jesus in our boat to speak “Peace! Be still!” to the boisterous waves and fearful roaring breakers.
I can't pilot my ship alone. Whatever waters still lie ahead of me that need to be navigated, Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”