Sunday, September 17, 2006



When Paul was about to be taken to Rome because he had appealed to Caesar, he had warned the captain of the ship that he should winter in the port where they were, because it was near the middle of November and not very safe for a sailing ship to be on the sea. He had heard from God. He was a seasoned veteran of the Christian faith, and had learned to know the voice of God when he "heard" it.

But the captain of the ship had other ideas. The port was not a very fancy one, (his desires) and the weather was not too bad yet (Human reasoning). And who was this prisoner who presumed to tell him what he should do with his ship? He didn't need navigating advice from a man in chains. (Pride, Arrogance)

The final decision was made one day when things looked quite favorable for him to sail on. Acts 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, [and there] to winter; [which is] an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained [their] purpose, loosing [thence], they sailed close by Crete.

In 1948 I was riding the ferry down the Inside Passage from Sitka, Alaska to Seattle. We came by a place where the navigators were instructed to be very careful because of the narrow passage, and a curve in the channel. Especially if it was night time or foggy, extreme caution was mandatory, and they had to rely on the accuracy of the compass, the time of the tide, and a time clock. After passing a certain point, they were to proceed at a certain reading of the compass for a certain length of time. Then they were to change course abruptly to another compass reading in order to safely negotiate the curve in the channel.

We were told of a ship which had failed to negotiate the channel one foggy night. They had failed to properly evaluate the existing conditions. They did all the other things correctly, but because of faulty calculations or navigating equipment, they hit the rocks at high tide. The rusting hull was still on those rocks that evening in 1948 when I came by-- a stark warning to others who might pass that way afterward. It was visible from both directions-- mute evidence that someone had thought they were right when they were wrong-- fatefully wrong.

Navigators on the Inside Passage were, at that time, very careful to have a recently boxed compass on board, for a wrong reading of even one degree might mean the difference between life and death in the narrow channel. Of course, this was before the days of Radar, (it was just beginning to be used at that time) and certainly before the days of GPS (Global positioning sensors), which can guide a ship with unerring accuracy through the dangerous spots.

I have "seen" that rusting hull many times in my mind's eye since that evening in 1948. It becomes especially vivid at times when I am having to make important decisions in life. I have to ask myself if I have all of the pertinent facts, and are they actually facts or are they someone else's interpretation of the facts. Is my "compass" giving me a true, unbiased reading, or is it being affected by the foreign magnetism of my personal likes, dislikes, or desires? Do I really have the true meaning of the Word of God on the matter? Do I REALLY want the Will of God, or are my emotions and desires getting into the equation? These are factors of utmost importance.

Can we depend on our feelings for finding the Will of God in our lives? No. Can we depend on present circumstances to discern the Mind of God? No. Can we depend on opening the Bible and putting a finger on a verse of scripture? No.

But we CAN depend on diligent prayer, and consecrating ourselves to do whatever the Lord might direct us to do, by "culling" out our own desires and wishes, in order to more accurately discern the voice of the Lord.

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