Steering

November 11, 2006
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2 Corinthians 5:7 – We live by faith, not by sight. (NIV)

Though I was a very young, inexperienced sailor with the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II, I took my turn at steering the ship on which I served — an escort vessel. The duty of such a ship was not simply to go from A to B, or even to hunt out the enemy U-boats. It was "to ensure the safe and timely arrival of the convoy". This often meant acting like a sheep dog, rounding up ships scattered by storms or enemy action, keeping the precious convoy intact. I controlled not only the direction, but also the speed of the ship. The steering wheel and the engine room telegraph were both in my hands. But I couldn't see where we were going! There was a solid bulkhead right across in front of me. Time of day and weather permitting, I could — through a porthole — see where we were, and even where we had been — but I could not see ahead.

The answer, of course, was that only inches from my mouth was a speaking tube, and on the other end of that tube was the Officer of the Watch. He was up on the bridge, out in the open, without even a roof over his head. He could see all around, in every direction; there were lookouts at every corner of the ship in constant touch with him; he had radar to see beyond the horizon and asdic to "see" into the depths of the ocean beneath. He had signalmen keeping him in touch with the convoy, and the wireless to keep him in touch with the Admiralty. And he had years of experience. But there were two things he did not have. He had no control over the direction or speed of the ship. For these, he depended on an inexperienced nineteen-year-old. In spite of the difference in experience, I and the Officer of the Watch were mutually dependent. I depended on him to give the right orders; he depended on me to carry them out.

In life, we know what is going on around us and what has happened before, but we cannot see ahead. We have control of the direction and speed of our lives, but we do not know what is going to happen even within the next few seconds. And our purpose is not just to get to heaven, but also to love and to care for our fellow men and women. God sees into the future; He has experienced this life. God has given us control of our lives; through His Word, He has given us direction; He has provided the speaking tube of prayer; but He depends on us to carry out His will. We can depend on Him to give us the right directions. Can He depend on us to carry them out?

Prayer: Gracious God, You see and know all things. You call us to carry out Your directions to preserve life, to fulfil Your will, and to aid in establishing Christ's kingdom on earth. You call us to rely on Your insight and understanding of the situations in which we find ourselves, and to act, even in our darkness, fog, and confusion, based on Your instructions. Help us to be faithful. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


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About the author:

Robert Sutherland <camerland48@gmail.com>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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