A Moment to Reflect

17 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -64


A while ago I began trying to research my family tree, but I quickly realised that it was going to take up too much time to do it properly and I gave up. Maybe one day I’ll start again. I did, however, discover one or two interesting pieces of information, including the fact that one of the brothers of my great grandfather died at the age of 20. The record says, “25 March 1883—lost at sea— off coast of Valparaiso, Chile.”

I don’t really know any more about what actually happened to him, but I do know another true story to which I might also legitimately give the title “Lost at Sea” and I’d like to share it with you today.

I was almost twelve years old when our family moved from Port Glasgow. In the street where our new home was, there lived a very elderly gentleman. Let’s just call him “Mr A.”

In his younger days, Mr A. had been in the Merchant Navy, serving as a cook. In fact, he was only ever known then by his nickname of “Cookie.”

It was hard work, especially in rough seas. There were also strict regulations, among which was a rule that any seaman who broke an item would have the cost of that item deducted from his wages. 

Well, one day Cookie was going about his usual ‘kitchen’ routines and he was carrying three different buckets up from the galley to the deck. Each of the buckets was filled with soapy water. One contained all the ship’s cutlery, the second held some other items that had to be washed, and the third …was filled with bilge water, which was to be thrown over the side. 

Mr A put two of the buckets on deck and the third, which contained the bilge water (or so he thought) he swung and sloshed overboard. To his horror he realised too late in the course of his swing that it wasn’t the bilge water …it was the cutlery! As it all clattered over the side and plunged into the ocean his heart sank even more quickly than the cutlery did. That would be all of his wages…

He went to the Captain’s cabin to confess, but before revealing what had actually happened, he asked the Captain a question. “Captain, Sir, is something lost if you know where it is?” The Captain thought for a moment and replied, “Well, it’s a strange question, but I guess if you know where something is, it’s not really lost.” To which ‘Cookie’ then responded, “That’s good, Sir! It means that the ship’s cutlery can’t be lost…because I know where is …it’s at the bottom of the ocean.”

For his ingenuity, the Captain spared Cookie from having his wages docked …although the rest of the ship’s crew were not quite so understanding, given that until they docked at the next port, they had to eat all their meals with their fingers!

Three thousand years ago the Psalmist declared:

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
  [Psalm 139: 1-6 New Living Translation]

God always knows where we are—even when we ourselves feel totally lost and ‘all at sea.’ 

So, to God we can never be lost …at sea, or anywhere else.