Saturday, October 19, 2013

Unprotected Waters

I recently saw the movie, "Captain Phillips," about a merchant marine captain whose ship was hijacked by Somali pirates.  First, and totally irrelevant to this message, I must say that Tom Hanks has just jumped to the top of my "great actors" list! He was unbelievably fantastic in this movie, especially at the end. I won't say too much about the movie, other than what's in the trailer, so as not to spoil it for some of you who have not yet seen it.

In April, 2009, Captain Richard Phillips' Maersk Alabama was en route to Mombasa, Kenya, and had been issued a warning from the U.S. Maritime Administration (following NATO advisories) to stay at least 600 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia due to heavy pirate activity. Captain Phillips ignored those warnings and traveled roughly 300 miles off the coast of Somalia in order to maintain a faster and more direct route. He knowingly put his crew of 20 in danger. He ignored the warnings. And because he ignored the warnings, the pirates picked up his ship on their radar and went in for the kill. He was in unprotected waters...anything was game.

The crew tried all the tactics they knew in order to deter the pirates from entering the ship, but the pirates were determined and persistent. Nothing was going to stop them! Captain Phillips ordered his crew to lock down in the engine room - a wise move, as they were able to control the ship from there. Ultimately, 
Captain Phillips was taken hostage by the pirates. That's all I'll tell you about that!

Sin can be very much like those pirates. We are all familiar with sin, and we are all especially familiar with the sin that personally entangles us. We know the triggers, we know our weaknesses. The thing about sin is that we are issued a warning to stay far from it. We know right from wrong, yes; but those gray areas-everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1) - those things that are perhaps not necessarily wrong, but not necessarily right or good for us-that's where we often get tripped up. Just as Captain Phillips received e-mails specifically for his ship, warning him of pirate attacks, we receive "Holy Spirit e-mails" in our spirits, our conscience. But like Captain Phillips, who preferred to take a shorter route, knowing that he was taking a risk, we often want to take the shortcut, the quickest way, the way that feels good at the time. We know, however briefly, that we are taking a risk, but we ignore the warnings. And when we ignore the warnings, we put our ship and our crew in danger.

Once we chart our course, once we give in to temptation, we enter those unprotected waters. That's when satan and his pirates pick up our ship on their radar.  An unprotected ship in unprotected waters?  Let's go! Anything is fair game now. We are now in enemy territory. There is no guarantee of safety! And those pirates, once they spot our lonely ship, will stop at nothing to enter and take control of the ship. Their goal is to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

Once we've allowed satan and his pirates access to our ship, we open ourselves up to be taken hostage. He will not stop at anything. Muse, the Pirate Captain, once aboard the Alabama, says, "I'm the captain now."  As soon as we give in to sin, we allow the pirate captain to take over. Later, as a hostage, Captain Phillips tells Muse that "the Navy is not going to let you win!". But Muse responds, "I've come too far. I can't give up."  Satan is the same way. He is not going to give up. He will not just go away and leave us alone, even though he knows that God is not going to let him win. 

But guess what? Our crew is in the Engine Room, controlling the ship from there. We have a host of heavenly angels ready to do battle for us in the Heavenly Realm, the Holy Engine Room, if you will. The rest of John 10:10 says, ...but I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. We may be held captive for a time, but Jesus' death paid our ransom! We are set free from sin and bondage through his blood!

Captain Phillips called on the war ships, on the Navy, the ones more powerful than he. We need only call on Jesus, the One more powerful than us, than the pirates, than the pirate captain. At a moment's notice, He will come. May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.(Psalm 79:8). He will deliver us. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him (Psalm 91:15). 

He will save us from that temptation before the pirates even find our ship. But if we've already given in to that sin, He will deliver us from it. He will not allow us to be controlled by the pirate captain forever. We need not live in shame for his mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23). And Psalm 91:15 tells us that not only does he deliver us, but he honors us!

Of course, the best course is to avoid those pirate infested waters; to take the route that has been charted for us - the one that is protected. To heed the warnings when we are tempted to veer off course. But in those times when we fail, we can know that God will be there; the One who holds all power and dominion will fight for us! We need only call on the name of Jesus!

Blessings Along the Path,

Video of the Day:  Look at this with "Spiritual" eyes (and go see the movie!!!)
Captain Phillips Official Trailer

Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips                      The real Captain Richard Phillips

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