…holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith … (1 Tim. 1:19)

The scripture often used the imagery of sailing as an analogy for life and faith. A ship sets out with purpose for an intended destination, carrying precious cargo perhaps, but soon it runs into challenges.

  • Navigation: How shall the ship travel to its destination when it is out of the view of land? Someone on the ship must be experienced and can read the stars and pilot the ship to where it should go.
  • Weather: What shall the ship do when it meets a storm? When the wind and the waves become hazardous? Is the captain skilled and are the sailors reliable enough to survive?
  • Fog and Mist: And what about those times when they are within sight of land but fog obscures the view? How shall they navigate and pilot the ship when they can hardly
  • Reefs and Rocks: How shall the ship avoid the physical dangers of running aground? How can they know when the water is deep or when it is shallow?
  • Destination: And the greatest question is who is to decide where the ship shall go, what shall be its destination?

Here is a beautiful analogy of what it means to live in Christ, for all of these issues are matters in our own lives. What is the purpose of this journey you and I are on called life? What is our port of destination? How shall we navigate when all familiar sights are gone from view? How shall we deal with the storms of life, when our life seems like a little boat in the midst of a huge angry ocean? What about those times when our view of obscured, when nothing seems to make sense that once made sense? And what about the hidden dangers, the ones we never know, nor can never know, are there?

To be shipwrecked a ship has to run aground, and to be morally shipwrecked means to have ignored the freedom and buoyancy of the Spirit of God, to have ignored the freedom that comes by faith and the knowledge of His Word, and to have run into the hard reality of sin, temptation, and selfishness. It is a beautiful analogy, comparing life with Christ to being on a ship with freedom to move and to go where He commands, and comparing life away from Christ to a jagged rock that impales the ship and makes it unseaworthy.

Of course, at the moment of temptation, it seems just the opposite. It appears that the life in Christ is too constraining, and that what the world and the devil offer is more rewarding and exciting. But soon we find out, what people have discovered over the centuries, that misery and heartache and dullness is the reward of selfishness.

Two things we need in order to avoid a spiritual shipwreck: faith and a good conscience. Faith means to trust in God and to live in that trust daily. It means to believe Him, to believe the Bible, to worship Him daily, and to honor Him in our hearts. A good conscience means that we are quick to confess and repent when we go astray. We are sensitive to His urgings and to His voice that leads and guides.

Does God cast away spiritual shipwrecks? Every analogy, even biblical ones, has its limitations and this one is no exception. God has the means of His grace to take the most messed up lives and restore them. He forgives, repairs, restores, and sets us out again on a new journey.

I knew a Christian friend years ago who, despite being brought up in church and having trusted in Christ at a young age, got involved in illegal activities and spent some time in prison. He returned to Christ in prison, apologizing to those whom he had hurt and has lived for God sense his release. He said to me, “I don’t think the Spirit ever entirely left me” during his times of rebellion. The Spirit kept urging him to repent and return to faith and a good conscience.

If you feel spiritually shipwrecked, repent and place the entire matter in God’s hands. He is able to forgive, cleanse, and to restore your soul.

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