Happy Boxing Day! I don’t know that I’ve ever said that before or than anyone else does, but I wanted to welcome you with a warm Boxing Day Greeting!
I want to tell you a story that dates back to world war II:
During World War II, a passenger ship set sail from Great Britain headed for New York City. Because it was the war, the Captain of the ship was afraid of enemy vessels attacking them, so he sought the advice and guidance of the British Admiral.
The Admiral calmly assured the captain that no matter what happens, he should be sure to sail his ship straight ahead. “Do not take any detours — sail the ship straight ahead — continue on-ward, heading straight towards the intended mark,” he said.
After several days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean which was filled with submarines and enemy vessels of all kinds, the Captain spotted an enemy destroyer off his forward bow. Nervously he grasped the handset and called for assistance. The calm voice replied, “Keep on straight, do not detour, just sail the ship straight ahead. Everything will be just fine. Just keep on going – straight ahead.”
After a couple more days the ship pulled safely into the harbour of New York City. Shortly after docking the great British battleship “Man-of-War” pulled into port behind the passenger vessel. The Captain realized that while he did not see the British Battleship, she was there, standing by ready to come to his defence should it prove necessary.
What a great story and one that paints a picture of our lives, of what God asks us to do and how we is there with us in it.
The Captain of the ship was worried, and I suspect this year and right now, there are things that we are worried about.
Maybe pause for a moment and bring them to mind and say God these are the things that are troubling me – it is always good to identify and bring to God our struggles and fears and not supress them and pretend everything is ok. We all have them and God invites us to come and share them with him.
Once the captain had voiced his fears, he was given simple advice: keep on going – keep looking straight ahead and do not detour. He wasn’t told to do anything spectacular, but to just keep on going.
When life is tough and we are weighed down with our worries and struggles, just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Try not to be distracted by people and other things around us, but keep our eyes fixed on God and keep on going.
Psalm 121 says:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
We are to fix our gaze on God and put our trust in him and put one foot in front of the other and say today I’m not going to give in, I’m going to put my trust in you and not be distracted or deterred.
The captain kept on going. There were times when he was scared and he wanted reassurance and in those times was told keep on going. And it wasn’t until he got safely into harbour that he realised all of the time he hadn’t been alone, but that he was being escorted by a powerful battleship that had his back and would defend and protect him.
There are times when it may feel as though life is difficult, and we question where God is in it all. Know that he is there. Know that he goes with you. Know that he will help you and defends you and will get you safely to shore.
Amy and Ian recorded the song Abide with Me that I’m going to end with and as you listen to it, maybe you want to join in or use the words of it as your prayer to God today to keep your eyes fixed on him and walk gently with him into this day and this season knowing that he’s got your back and is with you.