Posted in encouragement, theology

Falling overboard…will he remember me?

By Elizabeth Prata

I lived aboard a sailing yacht for two years and sailed up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Here is our boat.

china doll
At anchor in the Chesapeake
china doll2
Upping anchor at dawn in a Georgia river

Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? Many days, it was.

But the sea can a capricious enchantress, and sometimes it kicked up wildly.

wave
Sailing south of the FL keys. HUGE wave, photo doesn’t do it justice.

If we made an overnight offshore passage, it meant that when one of us was at the wheel, the other was resting or sleeping below. We did not have an automatic pilot (a yacht’s gizmo for cruise control). One of us just stood there in two hour shifts, hands on the wheel at all times. If the wind changed, we left the wheel and went forward to deal with changing the sails to adjust.

That was the most dangerous thing we had to do in the whole cruise. Leaving the cockpit and walking forward, at night, alone, with one of us sleeping below. You could easily get knocked overboard and the boat would sail on without you. Cries for help would be meager and immediately drowned out by the swish of the boat, the knocking of the sails and lines and anchor chain, the waves lashing against the boat, and the wind. When there is a storm the last thing the place is, is quiet. A human voice cannot compete.

My fear of falling overboard was palpable and never left me. Just thinking for a moment of the stern of the yacht sailing on and me in the cold, cold water probably to die, was a specter in front of my eyes all the time.

The way that small boat sailors dealt with that was to install jack lines. These are:

a rope or wire strung from a ship’s bow to stern to which a safety harness can be clipped, allowing a crew member to move about the deck safely when there is risk of falling or being swept overboard. At sea, falling overboard is one of the leading causes of death in boating; fastening oneself to the ship with a safety harness reduces this risk.

jack line
Source. Photo credit Frank van Mierlo

Many men in small yacht sailing avoid jack lines, something to do with machismo, I suppose. I’m glad my husband didn’t feel that way. He installed and actually used jack lines whenever we made an offshore passage. Insisted on it, actually.

I watched the PBS show Carrier, about sailors on a US Navy Carrier, and in one episode, a sailor fell off the ship. He was not found.

I often think about how hard it would be to spot a tiny dark head in the swishing ocean. What insignificance we would feel being a tiny bundle of flesh in the mighty and expansive sea.

God is like that ocean. Sometimes we might feel tiny and insignificant in the face of His majesty and power. He created the universe with a word, flooded the entire earth with His power, named all the billions of stars. Does He remember me, a small package of flesh yawping and lumbering about on the earth? Does He recall my name, see this forgiven sinner in the vast ocean of humanity?

Yes.

Yes, He remembers you (and me). (See Genesis 21:14-17). There is no fear that one lone person will get lost in the shuffle. He formed our soul, wrote our names in His Book since before the foundation of the world, anticipated us through His sovereign plan, formed us in the womb, and guarded us until the appointed day of salvation. Then-

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30)

Moreover, his Son died for us, for each tiny bundle of flesh bouncing around in this world of sin and death and activity and humanity. Jesus died for us, each of us, the elect. We will not get lost in the shuffle. He will remember me.

Posted in jesus, theology

Remembering our earliest grace

By Elizabeth Prata

New Christians are so full of zeal and fervor! They run hither and yon, proclaiming and exclaiming the glories and perfections of Christ. Those early days of their grace-filled life are sweet to witness. Do you remember your early days?

As sanctification grows, so does the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).

As a bundle of one fruit, the fruit in growing saints sweeps in as a rushing tide, later to settle as a gentle march of steady growth.

But as time passes for the mature saint, does the early zeal grow slight? Does it wane? Does the steady growth sadly slow to a state of frozen molasses, inching along only imperceptibly? Let it not be so! Let not the grace filled days of zeal sputter into a distant memory.

Spurgeon said of Christian zeal aimed rightly-

We do little or nothing, the most of us; we fritter away our time. O that we could live while we live; but our existence—that is all we can call it—our existence, what a poor thing it is! … O that we may become inexhaustible and permanent rivers of usefulness, through the abundant springs from whence our supply cometh, even the Spirit of the living God. … We cannot advance so far as the Saviour’s bloody sweat, but to something like it the Christian ought to attain when he sees the tremendous clouds of sin and the tempest of God’s gathering wrath. …

How can I see souls damned, without emotion? How can I hear Christ’s name blasphemed, without a shudder? How can I think of the multitudes who prefer ruin to salvation, without a pang?

I have to close by commending zeal. Let my words be few, but let them be weighty here. In commending zeal, let me say, I think it should commend itself to every Christian man without a word of mine, but if you must have it, remember that God Himself is zealous.

Charles H. Spurgeon, “Zealots” sermon No. 639

If we constantly hark back to our beginning days, we can fan the flame of zeal when we remember our former state. We remember His work to deliver grace. We remember our joy in the relief of the terrible burden of sin and judgment. John Bunyan wrote:

It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls. … It was Paul’s accustomed manner (Acts 22), and that when tried for his life (Acts 24), even to open, before his judges, the manner of his conversion: he would think of that day, and that hour, in the which he first did meet with grace; for he found it support unto him. When God had brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea, far into the wilderness, yet they must turn quite about thither again, to remember the drowning of their enemies there (Num 14:25). For though they sang his praise before, yet “they soon forgat his works” (Psa 106:11-13).

My dear children, call to mind the former days, “and the years of ancient times: remember also your songs in the night; and commune with your own heart” (Psa 73:5-12). Yea, look diligently, and leave no corner therein unsearched, for there is treasure hid, even the treasure of your first and second experience of the grace of God toward you. Remember, I say, the word that first laid hold upon you; remember your terrors of conscience, and fear of death and hell; remember also your tears and prayers to God; yea, how you sighed under every hedge for mercy.

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding

Saint, remember the early days. Remember all that Jesus has done. Extol His virtues and perfections, His willingness to endure the cross with all its loneliness and wrath. His death and burial, and glorious resurrection. Remember all that, so the grace that He delivered to us in forgiveness of our sins will revive the quieting heart, renew the callousing heart, resound the forgetting heart. Jesus was zealous for His Father’s house. We can gather and be zealous for His house also. Zealous in love and submission and awe and worship.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day!

fruit of the light