A Valuable Lesson from an Old Sea Captain
by Noah Hefley
May 02, 2020
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The story is told about an old sea captain named Eleazar Hall who lived years ago in Bedford, Massachusetts during the era of great sailing ships. He was a highly revered local legend as a sea captain. He worked tirelessly and caught fish more successfully than anyone else in the area. He would stay out at sea for long periods of time without any navigational equipment to guide his vessel. When asked how he could do so, he would say, “Oh, I go up on the deck and listen to the wind and the rigging. I get the drift of the sea, look up at the stars, and then set my course.”
Well, over time, things changed in Bedford. The large insurance companies said they would no longer insure the ships if the captains did not have a certified and properly trained navigator on board. Many wondered what Eleazar would do. But to everyone’s surprise he simply said, “If I must, I will go and take the navigational courses and get certified myself.”
Well, Eleazar completed the courses successfully and then took off to sea immediately. After a lengthy time at sea, he finally returned with a great catch. People gathered around the dock on his return and asked how it went navigating with all the charts and equations. Then came his answer—
Eleazar sat down, took a deep breath, and said, “Oh, it was simple. Whenever I wanted to know my location, I would go to my cabin, get out the charts and tables, work the equation and set my course with scientific precision. Then I would go up on the deck, listen to the wind and rigging, get the drift of the sea, look at the stars, and then go back to be cabin and correct the errors I made in my computation.”
Learn a lesson from the sea captain. There’s nothing wrong with studying your situation and making plans according to your best calculation. But we must all learn the value of coming up on the deck, opening God’s word and listening to the still, small voice of God in your heart giving direction to your life. Only then can you go back below and make adjustments to all those finely studied logical plans which you have drawn up for your life. This is the only way we can be obedient to the scripture which teaches: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
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