A few weeks ago Tina and I stopped in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to watch our first-ever regatta. As the sculls raced down the river toward the finish line, we listened as the coxswains called out words of instructions to the crews.

The coxswain, or cox, as he or she is sometimes referred to, sits in the stern of the boat facing the crew and in the bow of the boat facing upriver in most four-crew sculls. As the crew pulls the oars, they are unable to see where they are going so the cox has to be their eyes.

In addition, it is the job of the cox to control the rudder and steer the scull during the race. Knowing the current of the river and keeping the scull on line is the important job of the cox.DSC_4852

The cox has a microphone with amplification so he or she can provide motivation and encouragement for the crew. The cox makes tactical decisions, diagnoses and solves problems. Essentially, the cox is the coach aboard the scull.

Jesus is Christian’s coxswain. Jesus sees what we cannot see. He knows what is up ahead and gives us the motivation and encouragement we need. He is our inspiration.

Jesus works in tandem with us, providing the direction we need for our lives. The Psalmist reminds us of this through the words of Psalm 23:2. “He makes me lie down in green pastures and he leads me beside still waters.”

Picture Jesus as the Great Coxswain with His hand on the rudder of our lives. He knows the current and He helps keep our lives on course. He directs us and guides us where we need to go. However, He expects us to row. He expects us to row together, to get along, to have a vision, and to stay on course. It’s not all Jesus.

If all you had was the coxswain calling out encouragement, but you had no rowing taking place, the scull would be dead still in the water.

Paul told the people in the church of Thessalonica, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Yeah, Jesus once made can lots of food from a few loaves and a few fish, but such daily miracles would only cause us to stop working. Ye[s], Jesus once healed a man with a withered hand, but He still expects us to train doctors and nurses.

Imagine the frustration of those on a crew if just one member ceases to pull the oar. How can the team be expected to win?

Imagine the frustration in a business when all the employees are not pulling their weight and sharing the vision of the owner.

Imagine the frustration in an army when all the soldiers are not following the orders of their commanders.

Imagine the frustration of a church, when people don’t agree on a vision, when people will not pull the oars of prayer, or tithing, or volunteering, or inviting, or even being enthusiastic about all that’s taking place on the campus? How can the church succeed?

The finish line is ahead. When we cross it, there will be no more time to work, no more opportunities to make a difference. Our time will be done. We must work while we can. As the old hymn says, “We’ll work till Jesus comes.” Make no mistake, Jesus is coming.

When He comes, will He be pleased with the part you have played?

Let’s trust Him. Let’s listen to Him. Let’s all do our part and pull together and row in the same direction. When we don’t, we are prone to wander and people are prone to leave the God they love.

But when we row in unison and listen to the coxswain, we will cross the finish line and we will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).