A Navigation Lesson

written by Sherry Schumann
2 · 20 · 23

I was at the boat’s helm, cutting figure eights in our boat off the pier at Bulls Bay in Charleston SC while my husband backed the boat trailer down the ramp. Another boat approached the dock, so I cut the throttle. Our boat lost its steering; the motor sputtered and stalled; and I found myself at the mercy of the outgoing tide. It was a frightening experience.

Years later, I decided to “man-up” and make another attempt at handling the boat. Emboldened by a lazy afternoon on the water, I offered to chauffeur. I felt confident that this time I could synchronize the boat’s movements whenever my husband cast his net into the water. Trust me; it was a bad idea. My husband’s patience was frayed like a tangled piece of fishing line before we made it around the first bend. 

I was in desperate need of saltwater intervention. My first Boat Driving 101 class commenced in the intracoastal waterway with our son, a lieutenant in the Coast Guard, as my instructor. I was awed by Brandon’s thoroughness, patience and ability to assuage my fears on the water. His response to my compliment was simple. “Mom, this is what I do for a living.” 

That day I learned an amazing lesson:

A boat cannot be steered unless the boat is in motion with water running across its rudder. 

My inability to handle the boat is a simple matter of physics. When I am frightened and cut the throttle, the boat stops moving in the water…water stops moving across the rudder…steering capability is lost.

I sometimes navigate life the same way I navigate a boat. I freeze when life’s challenges appear insurmountable. 

It’s easy for me to encourage others to push the throttle and move forward, allowing God to navigate life’s path. It is much more difficult for me to identify the areas in my life in which I am frozen with fear, terrified of moving forward or backward, terrified of making a mistake. 

God’s people froze in a similar fashion with their backs against the wall—a wall of water to be exact. They were trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian chariots thundering down upon them. 

The Lord said to Moses,

“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
Raise your hand and stretch your staff over the sea to divide the water…”
(Exodus 14: 15-16).

In other words, MOVE! 

I am slowly learning to be humble and ask God to navigate my life. I ask Him if it’s time to wait or if it’s time to move.  When He answers, “MOVE,” I respond with all the enthusiasm that I can safely muster without falling out of the boat. “Aye, aye Captain.” I step into the boat, trusting Him to work a miracle.

Today’s Christian grandparents are facing incredible challenges. Isn’t time for all of us to turn to Christ and his Holy Word for the direction we so desperately need?


Dearest Lord,

Please navigate the vessel of my life. I salute You today, tomorrow, and forever.  


Your Boatswain’s Mates, Second Class

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Sherry Schumann


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