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


On an overcast, but mild Monday in February, two friends and I descended on Lake Decker (aka Walter E. Long), just east of Austin, for a morning of bass fishing from my boat. We launched at the only boat ramp on the lake, in Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. The weather forecast called for 10 – 20 MPH south winds, but when we got there it was calm, so I decided to head along the Northeast bank using my foot-controlled trolling motor. A piston in the gasoline motor on my boat had stopped working the previous July and, rather than rebuild a 21-year old engine, I sold it for parts. That left the 74 lb. thrust trolling motor and two paddles as our means of propulsion.

Two hours later, and having thrown every type of bait we could think of without success, we decided to head back the way that we had come. The south wind had picked up and we were headed right into it. So I turned my trolling motor up to half power. As we progressed, the wind became stronger, causing me to continue to increase power to the trolling motor.

We rounded the corner of a cove and that is when the full force of the wind hit us. I estimate that 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 were making almost no headway. I informed Jim McGee and Roland Olivarez that they would need to help the trolling motor by paddling.

We started to make headway but the more that we got into open water 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 headed into the wind with my trolling motor.

We went over to the reeds that lined the shore, hoping that 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 work day for most people). I managed to flag them down. A man on the other boat and I hooked my tow rope between the boats and the rescuers towed us back to the boat ramp.

In hindsight, I should have initially headed Southwest towards the dam. We then would have had the wind push us along on the way back. To add insult to injury, none of us got a bite!

Numbers, Chapters 22 through 24, tells the story of a talking donkey. No, that is not a typo – the passage conveys that a donkey had a short conversation with his master, Balaam.

The Israelites were almost ready to go into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. They had just utterly defeated the Amorite army and taken possession of their land. Now they were camped by the land of Moab. Balak, the Moabite king, was rightly 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 put a curse on the Israelites, in exchange for money.

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

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

So Balaam got on his donkey and began his journey to Moab. God knew that if Balaam arrived at Balak’s palace that Balaam would curse the Israelites, 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 for it. Then the angel stood in a narrow place where the donkey had no room to turn to either side, so the donkey just lay down on the road. Balaam was very angry and beat the donkey with his staff.

Then God caused Balaam’s donkey to speak to him. He said, ““What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”” (Numbers 22:28.) Balaam, apparently not perplexed by a talking donkey, responded that the donkey had made a fool of him and that if he had a sword he would kill it right now.

Then God allowed Balaam to see the angel standing in the road with his sword drawn. The angel told Balaam, ““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.”” (Numbers 22:32b-33.)

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

Has there ever been a time when you were headed in a direction that you thought that you should go and you made no headway? Perhaps you tried it again at a different time or from a slightly different direction, but still didn’t make any progress.

Perhaps your lack of success was because you, like Balaam, were headed in a direction that God didn’t want you to go. But how can you discern the way that God wants you to go?

There are four methods to accomplish this:

  • 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 going to 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 are headed in the wrong direction, in large part due to the fact that they are not as close to the issue as we are and are not invested in it.

Sometimes, like that day on Decker, we have no choice but to continue to go in the direction that we are committed. But most of the time we have other choices. If you find yourself making no progress in the direction that you’re heading, it’s time to consider if you’re heading the right way.

Categories : Devotionals

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