How Does A Rudder Work

How Does A Rudder Work? (Audio)

It’s not as simple as you would think…

A rudder hangs off the back of the ship just waiting for someone to turn it this way or that so that it can help the ship turn the desired direction. Whether a ship or an airplane, the rudder is part of the equipment list to manage direction. It works in tandem with a lot of other equipment, energy and forces to help change happen. It does not work alone!

The way my mind works, and the way I’ve learned from my time flying, I understand the rudder helps to set up the vessel to make that turn into the desired direction.

But it is not just the turn of the rudder that results in directional change. There are many forces at play on the ship/airplane. The rudder only introduces forces that allow for the vehicle to be successful in making the turn. Depending on the particular vessel, the rudder deals with all kinds of forces that we often do not think about. And, without understanding these forces then you have no clue if your rudder is large enough, or powerful enough, to make a successful turn.

It hits me that we often do not comprehend the forces at work in our lives that produce desired results. Click To Tweet

In fact, from multiple websites describing the purpose of the rudder (including NASA), this generalized statement is found.

The rudder is used to control the position of the nose of the aircraft. (Or ship)

Notice. The job of the rudder is used to control the nose. A ship that has a keel will work differently than one that has no keel. A plane with a rudder and no ailerons (controls balance of the wings) will work differently than one with. Try point the nose of the ship in one direction without understanding the other forces will produce marginal or undesirable results.

I guess what I’m saying is that a rudder helps control the forces to allow for a different direction, but there are other things that need to happen for the change to be successful.

I wish I could say it better.

Consider your spiritual walk. Not only can you introduce change into your direction of life, you also need to understand the forces and actions required to make that change successful.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

Paul tells the church in Rome, “we know all things work together”…

Notice… The forces at work function together. The good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly!

Diagram a ship’s rudder and it would be simple to see the left and right swings that change forward momentum into a desired turn while the drift value increases proportionally to the force created by size and amount of turn of the rudder, the amount and direction of the wind, the set of the sails if applicable, keel or not, weight of vessel, the speed of the vessel through the water, and the speed and direction of the water itself…

Like I said, it’s complicated.

All these things work together. Right? But the one thing I take special note of is the strength of the vessel itself making the turn. What’s your personal strength like? If you need to make a sudden turn can you handle the forces at work to allow for directional change?

That’s why I said yesterday [One Degree at a Time] that little changes are better. Especially if you have plenty of room ahead to make the change without overreacting. Major changes are required when you’re about to crash and there is no room nor time to think long term!

Immediately, an image of a memory comes to mind. Granddad is returning to his pier with all of us in the boat. He drives straight at the nose end of the pier as fast as that 20hp Johnson can drive that 14-foot Ouachita V-hull boat! “Watch your fingers!” At the last moment, and he never failed, he whipped the motor first one way, and then the other, riding the swell and cutting the power…we coasted next to the pier as if it was the normal way of doing things!

Made me wonder how many times he practiced when no one could see him fail!

Here’s a thought that comes to me that will require more development, but this one scripture speaks volumes to me. God speaks to Cain after he slays Abel in the early days of Genesis.

So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”  (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV)

The imagery of the phrase, “sin lies at the door” is one from the Hebrew that describes sin as something “crouching”, much like that of a lion before pouncing on his prey.

Sin Crouches At The Door.

Sin produces a force that leads us in wrong directions. It works against all other proper actions. It creates an imbalance that makes it hard for true and positive changes to be made. When we see the force of sin working in our lives, then we need to make rudder shifts to turn away from that awful lion waiting to pounce on us.

What is Sin? An offense. Against God. And others. One common definition is being “at odds with God” or “missing the mark”.

Here’s my thought today. The rudder is only part of the puzzle of life. All the other forces at play will help you understand the effort required to make the turn successful. Even when in the middle of a turn, an eddy (something counter to the main current) can cause you to overcorrect what you think you need to do. Start the turn by small increments. Allow the forces at work to help the turn become a success.

When you make shifts from sin, you begin to “re-direct” yourself toward God. Just remember the thought of yesterday. The small degree of changes gives you time to react.

It’s like the proverbial Prodigal Son that Jesus teaches about. When he found himself far from the best direction of life, he came to himself (Luke 15:17) and realized his condition, I suspect it took a while of taking small incremental personal analysis to recognize his fallen state. But when the time was ripe, he returned to his best direction of life.

Incremental directional changes. As the rudder points our nose the right direction, the other forces of life must be understood and managed to make change successful.

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