Essays on Faith: Trust the captain

By By Karl Priest

I experienced life at sea with the U.S. Navy in 1968. My first cruise started in early January. Sometimes we would spend several days below deck never seeing the sky. A shipmate would have occasion to go above deck and could tell us what he saw. I only saw one porthole. It had thick glass and was not at a convenient height so it was of little use. I dimly recall hearing the weather of the day announced at reveille or morning muster. There is something I still vividly recall — when the ship entered a storm.

The ship was large enough that often we could not tell we were at sea if the weather was calm. As we went about our work the ship would begin to slightly rock as the weather changed. The 1MC (speaker system) would announce that the ship was entering rough seas. Soon thereafter, we would hear the command to “lash down!” That meant we were to tie down anything that could fly loose. Before long we heard, “All hands stand by for high seas and heavy rolls!” That was an accurate statement. Walking down a passageway required pushing off one bulkhead then pushing off the opposite bulkhead.

No matter how secure we made loose items, some would get damaged or destroyed. Some of us got a little banged up. Many were seasick.

We never knew how long the storm would last. We had no control over steering the ship. We had to trust the captain and he always got us to our destination port.

Those storms are like what Christians live through. There are brethren who have gone topside and came back to share what they saw. The damaged or lost equipment are our material possessions. The “lash down” warnings are Bible admonitions. The Captain is analogous to Jesus.

The hymn writer was so very right when he penned the words to “Upon a Wide and Stormy Sea.” Sail on! Sail on! The storms will soon be past, The darkness will not always last; Sail on! Sail on!

He knew that Christians must trust their Captain.

Karl Priest can be reached at

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