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Clearing the Decks

“Clear the decks!” was the command issued to sailors facing a storm or battle for them to throw overboard all unnecessary tackle and baggage. “Clear the decks!” meant to unload, to get rid of anything that would hinder the ship and crew. For example, when the apostle Paul and his colleague Luke were pounded by a storm at sea, they pitched in with the ship’s crew to clear the decks and “with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard” (Acts 27:19).

Sometimes we face personal storms and battles in which we must clear the decks. It might be a time of illness, grief, stress, temptation, depression, and/or overwork. Times to deep-six anything and everything that would weigh us down and impede our way forward. The New Testament urges embattled Hebrew Christians to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). These were Christians who had “endured a hard struggle with sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32): they needed to clear the decks and lay aside every weight that would hinder their running the race.

When difficult times come, you, along with the Holy Spirit, know best how you need to clear the decks, what you need to throw overboard, even if for a time. It might require swimming upstream against the culture, or doing something others might not understand. But you need to keep the one thing in life, the one thing.
So, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you consider the following:

  1. What one thing do I need to STOP doing that will help center my life on God?
  2. What one thing do I need to BEGIN doing that will help center my life on God?

Important, clarifying questions to keep asking in difficult times!

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