The lesson was on being dependent on the Holy Spirit and avoiding a frontal charge of human effort to achieve spiritual progress. Everyone was nodding and agreeing that we do not want to try to do God’s work depending on the arm of flesh. We want God’s power; God has to do the important work while we get to have a front row seat and assist with diligent effort around the edges.   

The teacher used this illustration of standing up on water skis to help us grasp what he was saying.  It will be of most help to those who have water skied or tried to water ski. If you have not tried water skiing, this illustration may not connect. 

Suppose you have your water skis on,  you are sitting in the water, the tow rope is stretched out straight all the way to the boat. The engine is idling, waiting for your signal and the driver is turned around to watch you.  You are balanced and ready. You lift your hand skyward, your thumb pointing up.  The boat driver presses the accelerator and shortly you are being dragged through the water. 

You are careful to keep your skis in front of you as you start to rise.  Now some of your chest is out of the water. You decide to help the engine by suddenly standing up.  But you are not going fast enough;  you are still too low in the water to stand up.  But you are over eager. Instead of continuing up, you fall forward.      

The boat circles you and drags the tow rope back to you.  The driver comes along side you and says, “Let the engine do its work.  Don’t stand up suddenly. Let the engine pull you up out of the water.  Just keep your tips up, angled slightly up and let the engine pull you out of the water.” 

You get aligned for your next try. Thumb up.  Moving nicely through the water. Chest now fully out of the water. You force yourself to be patient. To wait on the engine to get you high enough and fast enough to fully stand. And in another three to five seconds you are on top of the water. You are up.  Skiing.

You want to serve God. Good. That is the Spirit at work in your mind and will. You have a project in mind which you believe will glorify God. You have read what God did through a fearful man, some torches, pitchers, and trumpets, and 300 men (Gideon). You know that Hezekiah sent the choir, not the Navy Seals or the Delta Force Commando (II Chronicles 20:21).  Knowing your tendency to be aggressive, knowing your own giftedness and talent, you make yourself go forward at a controlled pace.  “I am going to be patient. I am going to include others. I am going to think. And I am going to pray.”  

You are balanced. Ready. You have reached the point that good counsel, the opportunities, and your peace of mind give you permission to stick your thumb up. The Spirit is pulling you. You are rising out of the water, careful to not rush things, be obnoxious to others or independent of the Lord. Your chest is out of the water. Still you do not stand up. You are functioning at a God-approved pace. Even though you falter, you are soon at a full standing position with your knees bent to absorb any bumps on the surface of the water.  You’re up!  The ministry is flowing.  God is moving.  People are nourished. 

 Mystery characterizes our efforts to serve the Living God energized and enabled by God instead of rushing ahead with the best of human intentions or lagging behind in spiritual laziness.  Tough balance to hit. But as we are students of this delicate dance, we will get better at submitting to the timing, nuances, and nudges of the Holy Spirit.