“In irons” is an old sailing term. It was used often in the early days of sailing, and in those days “in irons” had some chilling implications. Last week I actually got to experience being “in irons” in real life.
There are a couple of versions of what it means. My understanding is that when you are sailing and the wind is swirling, and there are gusts coming from different directions, your vessel is essentially stuck. You can’t move because you cant get the sails at the right angle to harness the power of the wind.
The other version of being “in irons” is when the wind dies down, when it is still, and you are stuck. You can’t move. You are at the mercy of the wind. In earlier times, this was a dangerous scenario. With no breeze, vessels would sometimes be motionless for days on end. They were completely dependent on the wind to fill their sails.
Last week we had a Rogue event out in San Diego. We were able to take a few hours to sail in and around the harbor. There was a moment at the end of our time when the winds completely died down. The captain said it was very rare for this to happen in San Diego. We were essentially dead in the water. The sails were laying flat. We were going nowhere. Unlike generations before us, there was an easy solution; take down the sails, start the secondary motor and power our way home.
It was a great metaphor for the guys I was with. We had just talked about the critical importance of seeking God, discerning the way his holy wind is blowing, and getting on board for the ride. I am reminded again how absolutely essential it is to have our sails full, to be moving. There is real power, strength, purpose, and clear direction when the sails are full.
In what areas of my life do I need his holy wind to fill my sails? In what areas do I need movement? Are there some places that I feel blown in several directions, or places I feel dead in the water? Are there parts of my life that are clearly “in irons” ?
I am going to head outside, feel the wind, and see if anything comes to mind.