Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of GOD in CHRIST JESUS!”
Lower Deck Redemption!
The aged schooner lay at anchor, buoyed by its long, wooden hull. Wallowing anxiously in place, it lumbered next to a large yet crumbling wood dock. There this weathered, two-masted vessel sat patiently, listing noticeably starboard.
In the strengthening sunlight, a dark-bearded figure stood at the helm, seemingly lost in thought. Although shifting regularly to counter the boat’s predictable movements, it was more reflex than focused action.
It had been weeks since land had last been seen. It seemed no less than pure luck that he’d spotted the salt-greyed lighthouse against the miles of light blue waters. Somehow its antiquated collection of large, glass windows redirected the sunlight just enough to catch his attention.
Gazing upwards now through squinted eyes, its dead structure still left him awestruck. Its granite foundation was still solid and with nearly half of its brick overlay intact, a quick glance might mistake it for an older yet functioning beacon.
No other ships had been seen in route nor were there any docked alongside this timber and iron, floating ghost. With one tattered sail remaining and relying heavily upon favorable currents, so he’d wound up between a pair of smaller shipwrecks, long buried below the waterline.
Pulling his gaze back level with the sand, he paused to reflect on the past few weeks. Departing the British Virgin Islands for the tiny land mass called Montserrat, they’d gotten caught up in a massive storm just one day from port.
With just a skeleton crew given the empty cargo hold, so there weren’t enough hands on deck to quickly stow the sails or batten down the rest. The vicious, ghost storm had come out of nowhere and struck with such vindictive fury.
Swirling down and surrounding them with a torrential blizzard of frozen ice, it’s arrows then shredded both the huge canvas sheets and all human life. While vigorously trying to reach the upper deck in order to assist, a rogue wave had slammed their port side and knocked him back down the galley’s midship stairway.
Badly bruised and unconscious through the rest of the violent tempest, so he wasn’t aware that some 36 hours later, he would awake to calm seas as his sole companion.
Counting sunrises and sunsets, he then marked off the passing days in the captain’s quarters. Drifting mostly at random and sometimes with intention, so this isolated passenger turned the pilots wheel upon occasion.
The battered yet still working rudder would groan and further argue. But eventually, the ravaged and listing galleon would lean into the intended direction.
It was on this morning, a flickering light from this island had attracted his attention. Feverishly spinning the multi-handled wooden wheel towards the source, so he set his sights on hopeful beacon which intermittently beckoned him.
With the ocean currents willingly accompanying, it took less than an hour to overcompensate for the listing to starboard and aim the bow for the islands’ shoreline. Interestingly, the ship threaded itself through a small opening of coal around the island.
This allowed for calm waters within it and, as such, he slowly drifted towards a perfect parallel position. Sprinting across the still, storm-strewn deck, he managed to release the anchor. As such and given the gradually decreasing depths, he was able to gently coast up to the dock without running the ship aground in the shallows.
With his focus on recollection, he forgot about the gentle and rhythmic, side-to-side ship motions, As such, he lost his balance and was jerked backwards into the moment.
He was shipwrecked. Marooned. There weren’t any signs of human life though fish and birds were sufficient in supply. Exhaling deeply through his thick and somewhat matted facial growth, he willed himself forward.
Now careful to maintain his stability, he proceeded, looking for the mooring lines which would lash the ship to the lonesome dock.
Though warped by the elements and partly in shambles, it would serve well enough to stop this incessant swaying. Held in place only by the anchor behind, so the subtle rocking motion seemed endless and his steps no better than those of a drunken sailor.
A good twenty minutes later after having located two such ropes, he finally secured the ship from stem to stern. Like a tired puppy that had energetically tugged at his chain for over an hour, Resignation finally settled in upon them both.
With the glowing sun still rising towards the north/northeast, he shook off the cords of apathy and ventured back towards the stairway amidship. Now observing its thick corners and 12 steps In steep decline, he marveled that he hadn’t broken his neck or broken an arm or leg.
Now somewhat gingerly progressing, as if the mere memory of the event had re-injured him, he eventually reached the lower deck. Veering to the right, he then picked his way carefully through the arid smells and tackle strewn floorboards.
Again he noticed no signs of life, present or past, as the approaching outside light began lighting his steps. With his left hand shielding his eyes from its glare, so he drew near the manufactured opening in the ship’s starboard side.
Greeted by the outside light which seemed to be blowing through the entire boat, he also felt its warmth propelled by the vibrant breeze. Then stepping through, he braced his right leg to lower himself onto the dock.
The sun-warmed, wooden planks then rose to meet him and as his weight slowly settled into that first step…he sensed a less than solid surface. In addition, he felt warm sand beneath his bare feet…instead of parched wood.
Looking down and away from the glow surrounding, he quickly assessed why. He’d somehow missed the planks altogether and was standing on the very edge of the shoreline next to the dock.
So within that lengthy yet half second of time, GOD had transformed the rest of his vision as Joy transported this survivor’s heart.
He had indeed been on the journey home just three weeks back. But these were not the long, familiar settings of Montserrat.
Rather, there he stood with one foot in Heaven and the other still trailing on the ship’s deck.
Before him were the long awaiting shores of Glory and the deck now shined pristine, made from transparent gold stones.
Wordlessly comparing, he quickly thought about withdrawing back to the ship. But it had, well…GOD had, truly used it to bring him home. Through the storm…just as his SAVIOUR had promised.
Redirecting his gaze upwards once more, so a most wondrous transformation took place. The derelict lighthouse was now a brilliant mansion 4 stories high! At its open door stood a shining figure he instantly knew as the LORD!
Enraptured by the love in CHRIST’s eyes, so this weary soul was unaware that all else had been changed as well. No ship remained,
nor was the old dock still present.
Now there had indeed been a massive storm…and the ship he’d been on had sunk. The other 7 aboard who’d been on the upper deck of the ship had been swept off by that “rogue wave”. But they’d all been rescued.
Since he had been tossed backwards to the lower deck, then he was the only one aboard when the ship went down. Therefore, he wasn’t the soul survivor of the group, but truly the only one GOD had recalled home.
Amen and amen!
As HIServant sailing home daily while serving relentlessly,
Devotional: Job 14:5 “A person’s days are determined; YOU have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed!”
GOD knows the hairs on our head, has given us a finite number of breaths set before Time, and when HE calls us home, we go!
Psalm 139:1-4 “O LORD, YOU have searched me and known me! YOU know when I sit down and when I rise up; YOU discern my thoughts from afar.
YOU search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, YOU know it…”
HE knows everything about us and uniquely brings us to HIMSELF at that glorious, appointed time.
John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of GOD, and those who hear will live!”
Oh, for that day to hear HIM call our name homeward! Till then we serve and sail…relentlessly!
Amen and amen!