Most of you have seen it. As you travel along U.S. Highway 26, east of the turn-off for the record-holding Sitka spruce tree, a white sailboat sits in a field on the north side of the highway, awash in waves of weeds this time of the year.

I know very little about the boat and I confess that I've never stopped to inquire about it, though I've been tempted to several times. As far as I can tell, it's not been moved in many months, and appears to have been there for years.

The dark green growth on the surface of the deck and hull does not look like sea-grown algae, but more like the fungi that collects everywhere fresh water stands for long periods of time. As I recall, the mast has always been stepped in place, but I've never seen her with her sails aloft.

She obviously was designed to sail, but for a long time now she's not been doing what she was designed to do. Every time I pass her I find myself feeling sorry for her, and when I pass I cannot help but compare her to human beings. I'm convinced many of us are not doing what we are designed to do.

I try not to make it my business to tell anyone what they are to do, for I am convinced that such a plan is an intensely personal matter between each person and his or her designer. But I do believe deeply that each one of us has been designed by God to fulfill his purpose for us. And while I know we are capable of designing our own lives, I believe firmly that we are never completely happy until we pursue God's purpose for us.

Key questionWhen I was still a youngster and understood very little of my purpose, my church made me memorize its Shorter Catechism, the very first question of which is "What is the chief end of man (every person)?" The prescribed answer to that question, as many of you know, is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."

The catechism, of course, simply echoes the writers of the Bible and one of the most articulate on this subject is the Apostle Paul, who claimed, "For from (God) and through (God) and to (God) are all things. To him be the glory forever" (Romans 11:36). Paul also contended that however we choose to design our lives, that design ought to conform to God's purpose: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The psalmist is more emotional in his expression, for he says, "You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:24-26).

So I ask myself each time I drive Highway 26, "Am I sailing the high seas as God designed me to do, or am I awash in the weeds along the side of the road?"

Doug Rich is a pastor who enjoys being in the water.

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