On May 22, 2023 – the day that was originally set as Wayne’s and my wedding date forty-seven years ago – related families and friends shared a double Celebration of Life for my oldest sister and brother-in-law. They entered the harbor of Heaven’s eternity just over seven weeks apart; first Bob, then his wife Cheryl.
So go securely, do not delay; a harbor opens where you feared a shipwreck.
For 54 years, their barques* sailed alongside each other. Throughout their earthly vogages, they were secured fore and aft by the Hands at the helm; their individual and covenant lives steered by the Lord God. Through smooth and pleasant waters, and in raging waves and choppy seas, shipwreck was not to be their destiny. In the end, their Abba Father had, as He promised in their beginning, the last Word over their lives.
The faithful God who knows our end from our beginning will also have the last word for us who have sheltered our lives in Christ’s saving grace. His last is first: “Welcome Home! How I have waited for you!”
The Divine Frame of Square Sails
Wellspring of Life has been a diary of sorts because, if nothing else, it contains a chronicle of life lessons. Three years ago, in Wellspring’s Tenth Anniversary & Birthday Edition, I included a portion on the biblical meaning of the number ten. Of significance was the addition of ten to three, seven, and twelve to complete a divine frame, four-sided square. It’s the divine frame of square sails* that shapes and guides our barque.
Many spiritual nautical miles have been alluded to in allegory, metaphors, and symbolism. To reckon shipwrecks as out of sight, out of mind denies the hulked remains of many a vessel resting on the ocean floor. Multitudes of souls have gone down with the ship through the course of history. But there are times, as there was for the Apostle Paul and his crew (Acts 27:27-44) that while the vessel was battered and broken, because they stayed on board together, a way of rescue was made to shore with every soul saved.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love because You have seen my affliction.
You have known the troubles of my life and have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have set my feet in a spacious place. Psalm 31:7-8 (NIV84)
Gone From My Sight
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…
You Have a Harbor to Make
Though circumstances and ‘crews’ of our lives vary, you have a harbor to make. Heaven awaits. Meanwhile here below, consider well the divine frame of your square sails. And sail on securely, without delay. A harbor of love is open to you where shipwreck is not your destiny, for there is no fear in Love. I John 4:18
~ Gracefully Free
(who became a bride in September instead of May ~ the Lord’s choice for our wedding day)
*Barque- The barque (or bark) is a sailing ship with at least three masts, of which all but the one at the stern is rigged with square sails. The sail at the stern is rigged fore and aft, for handling purposes.
Photo credit: Brixham Lighthouse – Pixabay │ blue sailing ship by Pexels and ocean freighter by Pixabay
Gone From My Sight by Henry Van Dyke ~ read by their oldest son over Cheryl her last morning and in her portion of their double eulogy at the Celebration of Life
©2023 Nancy C. Bentz – Author’s permission granted to forward this devotional piece in its entirety, including this copyright line. Comments and subscriptions to this blog are welcome.