I reported to a destroyer tender for temporary duty after being a Christian for less than a year. I had failed many times publicly to confess Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Aboard the tender seemed no place to be an example of Christ’s life-changing grace.
Since I was an extra person aboard ship, I often had nothing to do. To stay out of the way, I read. It also was a means of avoiding trouble. A book I was reading was Christian oriented. Soon I was questioned about it.
I was not ashamed of the Gospel, but not having tested the waters, it became necessary that I either jump in or deny my Savior. I jumped and was kidded by several men — even ridiculed by one. With the Lord’s help, I kept my hot temper. I gave soft answers. As I did, I could feel the power of God increasing.
A sailor approached me in private. He told me that long before he entered the Navy he had become a dedicated Christian. He was suffering temptation at the time he thought he could not resist. We had a deep and prayerful discussion, but he made no commitment to turn away from the wide path he was considering. I do not know his final decision.
The last weekend I was on the ship, I was given the duty (stay on the ship and work after regular hours). Another fellow, one pay-grade lower, but a regular crew member, was with me. He obviously was hostile and demanded that I swab an area.
Anger rose up within me, and I started to lash out at him. But the words that came out were chosen by the Holy Spirit. I told him that because of what Jesus had done for me, I gladly would swab the deck. I could not believe what I had said; the fellow was dumbfounded.
As I slid that swab around, I felt indescribable joy. It was like water in a bucket that if left unused becomes stagnant, but when used, it splashes out and spreads around, cleansing — the love of God flowed through me.
I departed from that ship the next day and never was to hear from any of the men left behind. My adventure on the tender had been comparable, in a sense, to that experienced by Philip (Acts 8:26) — I had been sent to a desert, to a spiritually dry place. It is possible, however, that God’s purpose in sending me there may have been as much to help me as it was to help those whom I came in contact.