The beautiful majesty of sailboats heading out to the Albemarle Sound is a pleasure we get to experience every Wednesday night in Colington Harbour. At 6:00PM we see sailboats from every canal making their way to the harbor and circle up until all are gathered. It is a stunning sight, one which I can see from my westward-facing deck. I’ll never forget the first week we lived here. I was washing dishes and looking out the eastward-facing window when suddenly I saw a huge “pole” moving behind the houses across the street. For a brief moment I had a “War of the Worlds” flashback, and imagined that this was the first landing of some kind of alien invasion. It turned out to be the mast of a large, fast-moving sailboat that was going to the weekly community sail. What a relief!
Check out what James has to say about sail boats:
James 3-4 New International Version (NIV)
Taming the Tongue
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Yikes! Your tongue is a rudder with the potential to steer you WRONG. It’s a world of evil! So wrong, it might corrupt your whole body, set your life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. How is that for a how-do-you-do wake up call this morning?
That is enough to make you want to just stop talking. For some of us, that would actually be a great idea.
How many times have you wished you hadn’t said something? How often do you wish you could just take something back? Do words of anger bring hours/days/years of regret? Do you dwell in the remorse of knowing your judgmental words brought pain and shame on someone you love?
Well then, shut up.
Seriously. Shut up. The reason God gave us twice as many ears as a mouth is so that we would listen twice as hard and speak half as often. If you were to be honest, wouldn’t you like to go back to some (many) points of time and simply choose not to respond instead of spouting off at someone?
Last week I talked with a woman who would give anything to go back in time and choose to shut up rather than spew out. The incident she was recounting was one where she “flew off the handle” and said things she can never take back. It escalated to include many more people, and has compromised her integrity. She is now dealing with the aftershocks of her words. Another woman regrets her harsh appraisal of her teenage daughter, fearing that her judgment has propelled her child into an unhealthy situation.
If only we could take it all back. If only we would use our “rudder” appropriately. If only we would learn to shut up.
Today’s scripture challenges us to speak less, and listen with our two ears to that inner voice that is warning us to not say something. God invites us to listen carefully to what others are saying and resist the urge to respond with anything that is not loving, uplifting, kind, useful, and encouraging. And if that isn’t possible to do, then simply choose to shut up, smile and nod.
You will never regret the thing you didn’t say. Sail on, and use that rudder wisely.
Photo by Tim Neal.