In the early 1900s, the captain of a steamship feared running aground in Alaska waters more than gale-force winds. He might brave a storm — but grounding on ice or a hidden reef not only wrecked a shipmaster’s vessel, but also his reputation.
Only 16 lighthouses had been constructed along the 47,300 miles of Alaska coastline by 1932. Most were lantern-lit structures warning of shallows, and until the invention of sonar, a captain relied on charts and memory to sail the 2,725 ocean-miles from Seattle to St. Michael, Alaska. A captain often floated his vessel within inches of mountain ranges beneath the calm surface, and an omnipresent concern never left his mind: “What’s down there?”
To determine the depth and terrain ahead, a skipper assigned a sailor to stand on a platform installed on his ship’s bow. The sailor cast out a weighted sounding line to “read” the ocean floor ahead. In each cast, the lead weight (called a plummet) dug into the seabed. Tallow (pressed into a cavity in the plummet), carried back a sample of the sediment retrieved by the sailor. The captain navigated Alaska waters based upon his knowledge of the seabed stuck in tallow.
In the Year of Our Lord 2021, we, too, may “read” the terrain ahead, hoping to keep our families safe. But last year, how could we have known about the COVID-19 pandemic? Who could have predicted that we would close our businesses, churches, and schools for MONTHS to comply with state and municipal ordinances?
In 2019, we would have laughed if anyone told us, “Next year you will be required to wear a mask to shop in Fred Meyer or Walmart…”
And is anyone else shocked to find out how easily our national elections can be “systemically influenced?”
No matter how frantically we collect “sediment” from media or history or anyone claiming to be an oracle of the future — the question still looms large: “What’s down there…?”
Is the Christ follower obligated to continuously cast a plummet? Do we possess the ability to read the seabed and charts that tell us where and how to sail? NO. We are passengers only, who rely upon God to pilot our vessel. He is the only one who can safely carry us past shallows, ice shelves, or hidden mountain ranges.
Our course is predetermined. He will deliver us to our eternal port of call. (Eph. 1:11)
Anchor for a while, and remember how unerringly his Spirit has led you, especially when you sailed through tragedy and trauma. He has never let you down. Sail on.
Jesus is the commander of heaven and earth, who knows the terrain beneath every wave.
Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Eph. 1:11 NLT
Yes, you ]God] have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! Psa. 71:6 NLT
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38 NLT