a pilot ship coming to guide our ship to port
a cruise in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean this last February to
celebrate our forthcoming 50th wedding anniversary.
thought that I had while traveling is how something small can be so important
to something big.
we took was 14 levels high and could have 1250 passengers and 800 staff. This
time it was ½ full. It cost 500 million dollars to build and weighs 66,084
Yet the ship could not arrive or leave at any port without a small pilot
boat. At every port we arrived, a pilot ship was waiting for us to guide the
ship in, often early in the morning, even before dawn.
The captain of Oceania gave us “guests” or
passengers a brief talk one afternoon about the importance of the pilot ship.
Chris Cos, a Christian sister at Pilgrim Church, in addition told me that her
grandfather was a pilot captain and that he needed to have expert maritime
knowledge. Harbor pilots have been used since ancient times to guide vessels
into port. Even Marco Polo had help from ancient harbor pilots. Pilot boats are
small ships that take maritime pilots to vessels that are arriving at the port.
The pilots know about the harbor depths, wind speeds, tide levels, visibility,
weather conditions, traffic, berthing and dock infrastructure. The pilot
provides the larger vessels safe passage through the port and protects people, property,
and land. Becoming a harbor pilot takes years of training and maritime
experience. The captain of the vessel must give a harbor pilot complete trust.
The pilot ship can provide us several
important lessons. On the one hand, we may be reminded of the classic gospel
Savior, pilot me Over life’s tempestuous sea; Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal; Chart and compass came from Thee: Jesus,
Savior, pilot me.”…
at last I near the shore, And the fearful breakers roar ‘Twixt me and the
peaceful rest, Then, while leaning on Thy breast, May I hear Thee say to me, 'Fear not, I will pilot thee.'”
We may enter a new area of life, such as
the cruise ship entering a port, and think we can maneuver ourselves through
all the depths and tides. Yet we forget our Harbor Pilot, God, who can lead the
blind by a way they do not know, by currents they have not known God can guide
them (paraphrase of Isaiah 42:16). We are “blind” when it comes to the new.
In addition, God can use the body of
believers to guide us. The less impressive members of the body may appear less
crucial or important. Paul explains to the Corinthians: “As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The
eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the
feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the
members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and
those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater
honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas
our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the
body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that
there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same
care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer
together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor 12:20-26 NRSV).
As well, the cruise ship cannot say to the pilot
ship: “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the sea that
seem to be weaker or smaller are indispensable and those members of the sea
that we think less honorable we grant with greater honor. Through thousands of
years, cruise captains have relied on harbor pilots.
in the church, Christ wants everyone of us to share with others our spiritual
gift so the whole body can function well. What would happen if the harbor pilot
refused to come out to help the cruise ship? We would have many crashes! The
rest of us, moreover, need to trust those with special gifts granted by the
Creator of all harbors, tides, and winds.
Edward Hopper, Hymns for the living church (Carol Stream, IL: Hope,