Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let Go the Lines

My mind is drawn lately to my coming retirement in a short few months. As I reflect back, it does not seem so long ago that I ventured forth on a journey that would ultimately take me around the world. After I graduated from high school, I joined the navy to see it, but never got outside the country except one cruise I took with a friend from a neighboring ship - around Catalina Island off the California coast, and that one I spent either "hanging over the side" or "sickly dozing in a chair" until we returned and docked. It seems life on the open sea, outside the calmer safe harbor, was not for this sailor, or was it?

The last commissioned hospital ship in the U. S. Navy ws the USS Haven, docked at Terminal Island naval base, Long Beach, California. When I finished training as a clerk in San Diego in 1961, I was transferred to become a part of the Haven's maintenance crew, whose work was to keep the ship "shipshape" for its medical staff and patient care. My duties entailed taking care of the crew service records in the Exec.'s office. I learned very early on, that the Haven was the naval base's hospital, and though she had sailed in the past, at the time of my assignment her engine's were permanently shut down and detached from her "screws". Even necessary maintenance to clean her hull of barnacles required her to be towed to dry-dock, a somewhat humiliating "voyage". She was technically a ship built to sail, but landlocked with good reasons and important work, though not fulfilling the primary purpose for which she was built, to sail!

I served on a ship that did not sail anywhere, and I always felt the ship was less than fulfilled, though still in active service. As a part of the ship's company I, too, felt less that fulfilled, and after a year and a half applied and received orders for submarine school and duty on a sea-going vessel. A subsequent call to ministry changed those orders and set my feet on a different sailing track all together, and that which eventually led my family halfway around the world as missiionaries. It began with my decision to separate from duty on the Haven. Interesting to note that the name of the ship bespoke my status in a safer, "haven's harbor", too.

I've mentioned Oswald Chambers before. Well, he addressed this idea as he challenged the Christian to let go of the lines that keep him from following the will of God. He said, "When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more." Hence a continued spiritual discernment of God's will. "Docked" you may have a sacrificial work to do, but your spiritual destiny will remain undone. Christian, are you searching for God's will in your life? Know this, it will not be discerned by waiting until someone or something else cuts you loose. You must "let go the lines" to discover His will in truth. Stepping forth in faith will bring into focus your awareness of His new direction. The Apostle John brings challenge at this point: "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13:17) "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know..." (John 7:17) Here's my poetic rendering on the subject:

Oh Lord, I've willingly signed on,

To sail toward Your purpose true.

Help me know I'll not fulfill Your will

With work within just harbor's view.

Help me with vision far beyond

What mortal eyes would see,

And help me now "let go the lines"

That keep me safe from Thee.

As I continue to reflect on retirement and planned return to my home, I am again "letting go the lines" to sail into "some" unknown destinations, which is as it should be. In your own potential sailings, may you be encouraged by these few lines from mine.

1 comment:

Mich said...

I enjoyed this post! I like hearing a little bit of your life stories. I like the picture too!
You and Mom certainly have been an example of "letting go the lines."

Hope you have a good week!
Love ya!