Posted in end time, prophecy

Are you a cotter pin?

By Elizabeth Prata

In the body of Christ, all are important- even the seemingly small. Are you doubting your importance to Christ and His work? Don’t.

Isaiah 33:23a – “Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread

I was reading this verse today and it reminded me of something that happened to me some years ago. We were liveaboard yachtsmen then and had sailed from Maine to the Bahamas. We were anchored a while in the Bahamas, enjoying the numerous islands, hopping from one to the other. We had made some friends and sailed with them, anchoring at night and socializing by day over scrabble and rum. On the day of the photo below, I and my husband were sailing with our chums on Sea of Abaco. It was a yacht race,  and we were aboard their boat.

So me and the boat owner’s wife were sitting amidships enjoying the race, looking at the other boats, and chatting. After a few minutes, she said, “Let’s go below and get some water.” We moved to the galley and a second later we heard an enormous crash! The boat shook and rolled! We instantly thought we had run aground, even though the Sea was deep at that location. We scrambled up to the deck only to see that the mast had fallen down! It had crashed down on the spot where we had just been sitting!!

dismasted credit. note, this was not the boat I was on.
But the mess was similar.
Again, not our boat, but the sails and rigging
dragging in the water is similar

The other owner had fallen into the water and the sails and heavy ropes and rigging were ensnaring his legs, potentially dragging him under. The boat came to a dead stop in the water and we were simply in shock.

A dismasting is one of the most terrible things that can happen to a yachtsman on the water. Fortunately we were half a mile from nearly the only and the best boatbuilding and repair facility in the entire 700 mile chain of islands. The owner guy was a schmoozer and finagled parts from the States in no time and within a week they were on their way. As with any tragedy, we wanted to know why. What did the mast autopsy say?

The cotter pin was gone.

This is a cotter pin:

This is how a cotter pin is used:

A cotter pin is “a metal fastener with two tines that are bent during installation used to fasten metal together, like with a staple or rivet.” (Wikipedia)

A mast and its rigging system is complex, and it relies on the sum of its parts, plus tension, to work. “On a sailing vessel, a forestay, sometimes just called a stay, is a piece of standing rigging which keeps a mast from falling backwards. It is attached either at the very top of the mast, or in fractional rigs between about 1/8 and 1/4 from the top of the mast. The other end of the forestay is attached to the bow of the boat.”

forestay is #16

And the cotter pin holds the forestay to the bow. With the cotter pin gone, the tension of the system was disrupted, and at just the right moment, the mast fell backwards.

The first thing you see on a sailing vessel is its mast and sail. It is a beautiful thing, billowing in the wind, doing important work to propel the boat. The next thing perhaps you see is the boat itself, its lines and its beauty. As Alan Jackson sang in “Boats to Build,” it has a “fair curve from a noble plan.”

The next thing you may notice is the stays and shrouds hearing them hum and sing in the wind. You hear the engine, you see the keel when heeling in a stiff breeze. You never notice the cotter pins.

Isaiah 33:23a – “Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread

We Christians make up a body. Every body part has a function. If we’re serious about our walk with Jesus, we want to make a difference. We see great evangelists opening hearts to the Spirit and subsequent salvation. We see missionaries making great sacrifices. We listen to pastors preach as if they were on fire, and altars filled with weeping responders. We see teachers publishing book after book, with eager readers excitedly discussing new points of view.

We never notice the cotter pins. Some folks serve in quiet ways, unnoticed. In the background. But if the pin is gone, the mast falls down. It has its part in the system, and every body part is important to Jesus, the Head of the Body. If you have been feeling sad, like you’re insignificant, like you don’t make a difference, YOU DO.

1 Corinthians 12:18-31-

But now God has appointed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20But now there are many members, but one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, how much more is it that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary, 23and those members of the body which we think as less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24whereas our more presentable members have no such need. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all translate? 31But you earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I will yet show you a more excellent way.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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