Sail On, by former Southern Gospel group turned CCM group The Imperials, was originally released on the 1977 album of the same name. Sail On, would mark the beginning of an era that would allow The Imperials to see their biggest successes, both with awards and on the charts.
The message behind this song is simple and straight forward, as a true worshiper of God we must endure until the end. Whether that be our physical death, or the return of Jesus Christ, we must “sail on.” Yes, we will meet with rough waters, but there will also be calm waters too. At any rate, it’s only a short while until the LORD’s flagship comes to pick us up and take us all home.
The Apostle Paul made a similar statement to Timothy, when he wrote:
“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:5-8)
There are several ways to pilot a ship, whether that craft is designed for the water ways or the air ways, but one of the main tools used are the navigational instruments. A water vessel can use up to thirty different types. The main ones, which have been used for centuries, are the compass, the charts (a.k.a.: the maps), and the stars. An air ship uses many instruments for flying, as well, and one of those tools is known as an “attitude indicator,” or an “AI.”
An AI (pictured above) is an instrument used aboard an aircraft to inform the pilot of the aircraft’s orientation, as it relates to the Earth’s horizon. The attitude indicator will denote pitch (fore and aft tilt), and bank or roll (side to side tilt), and it is a primary instrument for flight while in the midst of poor weather (a.k.a.: instrument meteorological conditions). If the pilot maintains a good attitude then there should be little concern for a failed flight, but should a poor attitude become a part of the aircraft’s heading then danger will soon have to be dealt with. The same goes for us, as true worshipers.
We cannot endure to the end, through all of life’s trials and hardships, if we do not maintain a right attitude in our worship. In fact, it is only by worshiping God in all our circumstances (both good and bad) that we can hope to achieve and maintain a right attitude of worship. A poor attitude, where worship is concerned, is simply us moving from being a true worshiper of God to being a true worshiper of self. Without God to guide our “pitch” and “banks or rolls” we will surely crash and burn, and don’t even think about trying to navigate through a “storm” without a right attitude.
So how can we hope to have such an attitude in this life? By modeling our attitude after the only perfect man who ever lived — God’s son — Jesus Christ. A true worshiper must have a Christlike attitude (Philippians 2:5-8); one that encompasses all aspects of their lives. You see, an attitude of worship will both prepare us for worshiping God and set the stage for our response to God after we have begun worshiping Him. In The Joshua Project we went into more detail in our third set of articles and they are available to you, should you choose to study further.
One thing I would like to quickly cover, though, is this quote by best-selling author, and senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church (located in Frisco, Texas), Dr. Charles R. Swindoll. The quote is regarding “attitude” and is taken from his book entitled Strengthening Your Grip. It reads in part as follows, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we respond to it.” Simple and to the point. Did you grasp what he said?
Life is not made of circumstances. Life is made of choices. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your so-called “dead end” job. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your spouse’s infidelity. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your parents’ divorce. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your “ho-hum” life. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your best friend’s death. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to all of life’s “circumstances.” You! Not anyone else; no one. Just you. Not even the Almighty Himself can dictate that to you. It’s your choice to react with a negative attitude about a circumstance in your life or with a positive attitude. Now, let’s quickly adapt this concept into our worship.
To have the right attitude of worship, we must choose to do so. True worshipers understand that it’s ten percent God’s call in their lives and ninety percent how they will respond to His call. All of God’s great worshipers understood this, whether it was Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, the Apostles, or Jesus Christ. Every true worshiper learns of God’s calling in his or her life, but it takes our choosing to allow God to fulfill that calling in us that makes us into the true worshipers that we are purposed to be.
The Apostle Paul wrote about our ability to choose to accept God’s call on our lives. As we noted earlier, Paul admonishes the church to have a Christlike attitude. We read of this in his letter to the Philippians, during the second chapter (Philippians 2:5-9). In Galatians, chapter one, Paul was upset to find out that many Galatian Christians were “so quickly deserting the One who called them by the grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6). Again, please understand this; we choose to either accept or reject God’s call in our lives to be true worshipers. As Joshua said, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). What a great attitude of worship! Now join me, as we set our “compass” to God’s son, and let’s all keep “sailing on.”
Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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Sail On lyrics and music written by Chris Christian. Copyright © 1977 DaySpring Records, a subsidiary of Word Entertainment.
Video made available by Jason Ministries, The PTL Television Network, and Word Entertainment; Copyright © 1985 All Rights Reserved.
“Strengthening Your Grip” © 1998 by Dr. Charles R. Swindoll
All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the publication copyrighted 1998.
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