Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I wrote this some years ago, before I had a blog. I just came across it again so I thought I'd post it. It is a modern parable on sailing in the wrong direction...

Imagine that you are the captain of a ship named "Self." You are headed towards a far off place where you’ve heard that there are great riches to be had and pleasures to enjoy. Little do you know that none of what you have heard is true. The reality is that all who reach that land are kept alive forever, but only to suffer infinite loss and unbearable pain.

The creed on board your ship is "If it feels good do it," and "The way seems right to me." Your ship is not much to look at, but you don’t realize it. All the other vessels look the same and they are all headed in the same direction. The fact is that your ship is falling apart. The decks are rotting, the sails are torn, the hull is slowly failing. Despite all this, everytime you make a port call you can’t resist buying all sorts of things whether or not they have any apparent usefulness or long term benefit. Boxes labeled--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life--crowd the cargo holds and fill the deck. So much cargo has been brought on board that the ship is in danger of sinking. A large wave will no doubt overwhelm your vessel and bring the entire voyage to a bitter end. You know this and are aware that other ships have suffered that very fate, but you sail on. "My ship might not be much," you say, "but at least I am the captain of my own vessel, and when I get to my destination I will have riches and enjoy pleasures forevermore."

One day a ship approaches from the other direction. The first thing you notice about this ship is that it is headed the wrong way. This is the first time you’ve ever seen a ship headed in that direction. You faintly remember hearing tales about a land called "Eternal glory," far off in that direction, but you’ve always doubted its existence and besides that, you’ve heard that that route is filled with many dangers. Everyone you know is headed in the same direction you are.

But you also notice something different about the Captain and His ship. Although His ship is not as large or as stately as some of the others, it has a strange attractiveness to it. It appears to be quite seaworthy and isn’t overloaded with excess cargo. In fact you notice that the ship is immacuately clean. What is more is that you sense that there is a calmness and a joy on board that vessel. It sails through the water with ease and is not disturbed by bad weather or storms. You discover that the Man on board knows more about ships and seas than any other captain that you have ever known. You have a sense that He somehow created them all. If fact the Captain has a knowledge of you that somehow plumbs the very depths of your soul. You find yourself strangely attracted to Him--there is a sense in which you cannot bear the thought of being apart from Him--but still another part of you wants to hide from Him and cries out, "Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

Suddenly the Captain of the other vessel cries to you, "You’re headed in the wrong direction and your ship is about to sink, allow Me to come on board. I’ll turn your ship around, clean things up, and fix up your ship for smoothing sailing." Deep down inside you know that it is true--your ship is sinking! A part of you wants to welcome Him on board, but a thousand thoughts run through your mind:

You wonder why no one else is going that way.
You fear what the other captains will think if you suddenly head off in the wrong direction.
You ask, "Who is He to insult my ship?"
You can’t imagine getting rid of your cargo.
And you can’t imagine giving up control of your ship.

All sorts of fears enter into your mind as you consider the cost of letting this Captain on board. You understand that if you do, He will no doubt save you from sinking, but on the other hand you know that His presence will change everything on board your ship. You have to decide--are you going to reject Him or will you receive Him? Your eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

You decide to let Him on board. You find Him to be the very best of Captains. He provides for all of your needs. He is the best friend that you could ever imagine having. And you are secure realizing that He knows where He is going! Now, what about those other ships?

Pastor Jerry

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