“O, God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.”
— Winfred Ernest Garrison
That insightful line by Christian author and minister Winfred Ernest Garrison was placed front-and-center on President John F. Kennedy’s desk as a constant reminder of his desperate need for a higher power — higher even than the president of the United States.
The poem continues, “It cannot be that any happy fate … Will me befall … Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me … Through the consuming vastness of the sea.” Kennedy was keenly aware of his need for God’s providential guidance to “opens paths for me” while navigating through an increasingly perilous world.
Our Turbulent World
I don’t know about you, but I shudder to open a newspaper or turn on the TV for fear of being assaulted once again with a lurid stream of chaos, mayhem, murder and exploitation. Like a storm-tossed sea, our world seems so threatening, so out of control, so unstable.
Yes, technology has delivered artificial intelligence, social media, medical breakthroughs and a staggering increase in human “knowledge.” Yet, we are as soul-sick and terrified as before.
Despite being awash in “connectedness,” we are more isolated from ourselves internally, and alienated from our fellow man externally — too many of us feel “alone in a crowd,” especially the young and vulnerable.
No wonder the drug industry — legal and illegal — is thriving.
Meanwhile, the entertainment/distraction industry generates record profits pouring out ever more graphic fantasies designed to take us away from it all. Trouble is, there’s nowhere to run in the real world — not government with its draconian top-down “solutions,” nor modern man’s flawed self-actualization programs.
Something is missing at the core of our beings.
Mathematician, physicist and theologian Blaise Pascal believed that “there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”
To attempt to fill that vacuum with anything other than God is to invite an ever-deepening emptiness, while ignoring the needs of our primal nature to connect with our authentic spiritual “roots” in God.
Stop Treading Water
God is calling us upward, to his kingdom — and to embrace his exciting prospects for our lives — to become passengers aboard His bigger, safer, eternal “ship-of-state.” We needn’t sail alone in our rickety little individual tubs.
God assures us that we are not powerless flotsam set loose like a bobbing cork on a boiling sea. We have been created for a divine purpose and are encouraged to “join Him as family members and partners in the loving fellowship of those taking part in ‘a tremendously creative project, under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast scale, with ever increasing cycles of fruitfulness and enjoyment,’” as Christian philosopher Dallas Willard put it.
But it starts with a bit of self-examination … again, quoting Willard, “One should seriously inquire if to live in a world permeated with God and the knowledge of God is something you truly desire.”
If you do, God promises to create a whole new spiritual you, not only fashioning you into a greatly improved citizen of earth but also making you into a fully qualified citizen of heaven.
My Way or the Highway?
To embrace God’s plans and board His ship we must accept His terms. After all, He’s the Captain. Will it be on my terms, based on personal merit, skillfully crafted excuses and rationalized self-justification?
Or will I approach God on his terms, unreservedly accepting my lost condition as a sinner, and falling upon the exclusive God-appointed remedy for my condition. This, we learn, is based upon the sacrificial work on the cross of Jesus Christ, who substituted himself for us and paid the penalty for our sins.
How About You?
Still holding on to the sinking ship of this world and its empty promises? Hear this in John 3:16-17: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son … so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
Jesus is our one and only lifeboat and He’s calling for you to climb aboard.
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.