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


On an overcast but mild Monday morning in February, two friends and I arrived at Lake Decker (aka Walter E. Long), just east of Austin, for an FCS bass fishing trip on my boat.  The weather forecast called for 10 – 20 MPH south winds, but it was calm when we got there, so after we launched, I decided to head along the Northeast bank using my foot-controlled trolling motor.  A piston in the gasoline motor on my boat had blown the previous July, and I sold it for parts rather than rebuild a 21-year old engine.  That left my 74 lb. thrust Minn Kota 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 had to head 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 my trolling motor’s power.

We rounded the corner of the cove we were in, and that’s 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 we got onto 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 headed into the wind with my trolling motor’s foot pedal.

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 workday 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 our rescuers towed us back to the boat ramp.

Numbers, chapters 22 through 24, tells the story of a talking donkey.  No, that’s 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 curse the Israelites in exchange for money.

Balaam told the messengers that he needed God’s permission.  Balaam told the Lord 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 then sent the messengers away the following morning.

Balak then sent other officials, more numerous and distinguished than the first ones, who promised more money.  Balaam again told the messengers that he would ask the Lord if he had anything else to say.  This time God told Balaam 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 Balaam escaping the consequences of his sin.  Balaam planned to take money to curse a people God had already said he mustn’t curse.  And God wouldn’t 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 again.

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 he would kill it right now if he had a sword.

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 continue on his journey to Moab.  But instead of cursing the Israelites, God had Balaam bless Israel three times.

Has there ever been a time when you headed in a direction you thought 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 God didn’t want you to go.

But how can you discern the way 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 don’t read the map.
  • 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.”  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Godly counselors can help us see that we’re headed in the wrong direction, in large part because they aren’t as close to the issue and aren’t invested in it.

Sometimes, like that day on Decker, we have no choice but to continue to go in the direction we’re committed to.  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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Bible verse of the day

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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