Into the Wind by Randy Rowley 3/8/18 ©


On an overcast but mild Monday in February, two friends and I arrived at Lake Decker, just east of Austin, for a morning of bass fishing from my boat.

The weather forecast called for 10 – 20 MPH south winds, but it was calm when we got there, so after launching, I went along the northwest bank using my Minn Kota 74 lb. thrust foot-controlled trolling motor.  A piston in the gasoline motor on my boat had stopped working the previous July, and I sold it for parts rather than rebuild a 21-year-old engine, leaving my trolling motor and two paddles as our means of propulsion.

Two hours later, after throwing every type of lure we could think of without success, we decided to head back the way we’d come.  The south wind had picked up, and we had to run straight into it.  So I turned my trolling motor up to half power.  As we progressed, the wind strengthened, causing me to continue increasing power.

As we rounded the corner of the cove we were in, the full force of the wind hit us.  I estimate it was between 25 – 30 MPH.  The wind was constant, and the waves were white capping.  I turned the trolling motor’s wheel to full power, but we made almost no headway.  I asked Jim McGee and Roland Olivarez to help by paddling.

We started to make headway, but the more we got on the main lake, the stronger the wind became.  We only had about 300 yards to go when we stopped making headway.  After a few futile minutes, Jim and Roland were worn out from paddling, and my legs were exhausted from trying to keep the boat heading straight with my trolling motor.

We got close to the cattail reeds lining the shore, hoping we could pull ourselves along with them, but they proved to be too fragile.  I was just about to hop into the water and pull the boat along when a bass boat came to our side of the lake.  (We hadn’t seen one for around half an hour, as it was a workday for most people.)  I managed to flag them down.  After a man on the other boat and I hooked my tow rope between the boats, the rescuers towed us back to the boat ramp.

In hindsight, I should have initially headed southeast toward the dam.  We then wouldn’t have had to go into the wind on our way back.  To add insult to injury, none of us got a bite!

The book of Numbers, chapters 22 through 24, tells of a talking donkey.  No, that’s not a typo – the passage recounts that a donkey had a short conversation with its master, Balaam.

The Israelites were almost ready to go into the Promised Land of Canaan.  They had recently utterly defeated the Amorite army and taken possession of their land.  Now they were camped by the land of Moab.  The Moabite king Balak was justifiably afraid of the Israelites, especially about what they would probably do to his resources.  So he sent messengers to find a wicked prophet named Balaam to come to him and curse the Israelites in exchange for money.

Balaam told Balak’s messengers that he needed God’s permission.  God then came to Balaam, who told God what Balak had said.  God told Balaam in Numbers 22:12, “‘Do not go with them.  You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’” Balaam sent the messengers away the next morning.

Balak then sent other officials, more numerous and distinguished than the first ones, who promised Balaam much more money.  Balaam again told the messengers he’d ask God if he had anything else to say.  This time God said in Numbers 22:20, “‘Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.’” In this case, Balaam’s actions resulted in God changing his mind, but they didn’t result in him escaping the consequences of his sin.  Balaam planned to take money to curse a people God had already said shouldn’t be cursed, and God wouldn’t allow that to happen.

So Balaam got on his donkey and began his journey to Moab.  God knew Balaam would curse the Israelites if Balaam arrived at Balak’s palace, so he sent an angel with a drawn sword to stand in the road to stop Balaam.  Balaam couldn’t see the angel, but his donkey could.  The donkey tried to avoid the angel twice, and Balaam beat him because of it.  Then the angel stood in a narrow place where the donkey had no room to turn to either side, so the donkey laid on the road.  This made Balaam very angry, and he beat his donkey with his staff.

Then God caused Balaam’s donkey to speak to him.  He said in Numbers 22:28, “‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’” Balaam, apparently not perplexed by his donkey’s newfound ability, responded to his donkey that it had made a fool of him, and if he had a sword, he’d kill it right then.

Then God allowed Balaam to see the angel standing in the road with his sword drawn.  The angel told Balaam in Numbers 22:32b-33, “‘Why have you beaten your donkey these three times?  I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.  The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times.  If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.’”

Balaam finally realized he had sinned and offered to return home.  But God allowed Balaam to continue his journey to see Balak, and instead of cursing the Israelites, God had Balaam bless Israel three times.

Has there been a time when you were headed in a direction you thought you should go and made no headway?  Perhaps you tried it again at a different time or direction but didn’t progress.  Maybe your lack of success was because you, like Balaam, were headed in a direction God didn’t want you to.  But how can you discern the way God wants you to go?

There are four ways to discern God’s will:

  • Read and meditate on God’s word. Joshua 1:8 (NLT) says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” We can’t follow directions if we’re not reading the instruction manual.
  • Ask God what direction he wants you to go. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” James 4:2b says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
  • Listen to God’s voice while serving him.  God speaks to us when we’re participants, not spectators.
  • Seek Godly counsel.  Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) says: “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory,” and Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Godly counselors can help us see that we’re headed in the wrong direction, largely because they aren’t as close to the issue as we are and aren’t invested in it.

Sometimes, like that February morning on Lake Decker, we have no choice but to continue going in one direction.  But most of the time, we have other options.  If you find yourself making no progress in the direction you’re heading, it’s time to consider if you’re heading the right way.

Categories : Devotionals

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But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.