On the Open Sea
by Jefferson David Tant
It is midnight as I begin writing — midnight on the open sea. Most of the ship’s passengers are asleep as we move quietly through the water. I just stepped outside in the brisk night air and scanned the star-studded heavens. What a clear view of God’s creation — the myriad of stars, each having been named by its Creator (Psalms 147:4). Each star has a purpose and is guided in its course through the heavens by the will of God. What a majestic universe in which we live. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalms 8:3-4).
Various thoughts flooded my mind as I gazed at the heavens and across the sea. In the distance, I could make out four points of light — other ships making their way to their destinations. Each is guided by the sure hand of its pilot. This leviathan of the sea on which I am sailing carries over 3,500 souls who have entrusted their safety to the pilot. He has a sure guide on which he can rely. Ancient mariners used the sextant, plotting their course by the position of the heavenly bodies. Modern mariners rely on more sophisticated instruments, but they all take their cue from the things God has made — whether the compass that relies on the earth’s magnetic poles or the global positioning systems that rely on the laws of physics that God set in place at creation. On occasion, we have passed through rough seas, but our pilot kept us securely on the course, and there was no reason to fear. He has been this way before and therefore is a reliable guide in whom we can have the utmost confidence.
In the passage of life, we also have a sure pilot. Our Lord has been this way before and thus can direct us through calm and stormy seas. Peter said that Christ had left us an example to follow (I Peter 2:21), and if we will put our trust in him, the writer of Hebrews said we would have no reason to be afraid. “Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). If I were to guide our ship to its destination, we would all be in big trouble, and so it is in life. “O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Therefore, we are admonished to “Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). He will safely pilot us. The old song pleads “Jesus, Savior, pilot me, over life’s tempestuous sea…”
At this moment we are passing through the Mediterranean Sea. What a majestic sight we witnessed on the island of Santorini. Words are inadequate to describe the scene, and even photographs cannot fully capture the magnificence of the deep blue sea, the white buildings clinging to the cliffs of the island, and the charm of the people who inhabit this part of the world. Truly, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalms 19:1).
The sea is teeming with fish and the birds of the air number in the thousands. The mountains have an abundance of all manner of living things, both great and small. And God knows each one of them. “I know all the birds of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine” (Psalms 50:11).
We have a saying about something (or someone) that is old, that it is “as old as the hills.” Some might think that these islands and mountains have been here forever. But we know there was an existence even before they were born. “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalms 90:2).
Our great vessel has turned towards its next destination, and in a few days, we will be home. Home is a special place in every language and nation, and reminds us of that eternal home that our Savior has gone to prepare for us. “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go, ye know the way” (John 14:1-3). If we will all follow the pilot, we’ll all be there one day.