The Ship


by Scott Willis
Salem, Oregon

It was a cool morning that day, the fog that had been so thick was now replaced by a warm sun. I made my way to the waterfront. There were many ships docked and preparing to sail. A young man I was, so eager to sail on one of these. It was time for me to make a choice. Which ship would I commit my soul to? As I strolled along the dock, those aboard each ship would call to me. "Come aboard lad, many treasures await you in the East," cried one man. "Sail with us young man, these pleasures we offer will satisfy." Some would offer pleasure or riches, while others promised inner peace and tranquillity. Who should I sail with?

Struggling with the decision I became very uneasy. The fog had lifted, I was now accountable! Suddenly I looked, and there was a ship before me. This ship was very different than the others. It was an old ship. Yet it seemed as though it were built yesterday. Not decked with precious jewels or gold, no great flag or name representing their great king. At the front of the boat it read "The Narrow Way." As I marveled at it's simplicity, there was a sweet voice as the wind; "Deny yourself, take up your oar, and sail with me."

The crew pulled up anchor, and began to untie the ship. I ran as fast as my legs would allow me to reach them. "Come aboard son, there is still time," one man said. Standing aboard, it was hard not to marvel at the simplicity of this galley ship. It had a large White Sail above, and each person had an oar to bare below. "We have a place for you, it's time to go below." The man led me to the lower part of the ship.

As we entered the lower section of the galley ship, I heard men and women singing songs. These songs were new to my ears. New songs, songs of hope and strength! I marveled that each person with oar in hand seemed so free from all bondage. Yet part of me knew that each one was a slave to the Captain. "Here son, this is the Captain's Journal," the man said. "You will need this on your journey." Feeling very unworthy to read the Captain's Journal, I reluctantly took the Book from this man. "May I speak with the Captain sir ?" "Yes," he replied, as he walked away.

Very curious at this point, I began to read the Journal. My heart became very tender as each page breathed life into my empty soul. The journal read; "long ago, it was promised that this Captain would give His life for the crew." This Captain was not like so many others I had read about as a youth. He had a very small crew. Reading about His journeys, it became very clear to me this Captain did more than all the famous captains I had idolized in my younger years. He came to set the captives free! "Yes!" "I want to be free!"

With my journal close by, I grabbed an oar and began to row. The ship had windows, but I could only see through them dimly. As I read the journal daily, my strength increased. The Ship would stop frequently at ports, to get supplies. Arriving at the port Babylon, we dropped anchor. So many beautiful ships were docked there. Loading and unloading their goods, I looked with amazement at their beauty.

Some on our ship could not stand the temptation. They immediately fled our ship as the sailors from other boats mocked and belittled our crew. "We will only take what we need son," the man said. "Pull up the anchor, it's time to go." "But wait sir, what about those that left the ship?" I cried. "Let them go, the Captain does not force anyone to sail with Him," he replied.

As we sailed from the port Babylon, we watched those that had left our ship being mocked by those other sailors for sailing with us! Trying to hide my tears, I made my way back to my post. Suddenly a voice from the Journal whispered to me; "Many are called, but few are chosen."

As time passed, my strength would often be replaced by weakness. No fault of the Captain's, just my own unbelief. At times the temptation to leave the ship became very great. My fellow sailors would always encourage me in these weak moments, often sharing a word of strength from the Captain's Journal. They began to tell me that soon we would reach that Final Port.

As the days soon turned to years, it seemed so light and momentary, all my trials and tests. At each port, new sailors would come aboard. "Come aboard, there is still time," I would say. My heart was always grieved because so many chose to leave the ship. The Day came when we pulled up anchor for the last time. The sky was very dark over the horizon. Our Ship headed straight into the storm. We raised The Sail, knowing It would lead us to that Final Port! This storm seemed as though it would never end. Never before had such a storm raged upon the seas. One dark morning it was my turn to take watch in the crow's nest. As I watched and prayed, suddenly a Bright Light beamed from afar. I sounded a trumpet to alert the crew that our long awaited Port was now so very near. The Sail guided us so swiftly to this Light, our crew now very weak in body, yet so strong in heart! There were other ships there that day, all intending to enter The Port. Many of those ships filled with Babylon's riches, their hulls so broad and full, sought to enter this Narrow Port.

Our crew watched as each ship smashed against the rocks! Their crews all falling victim to those rough seas. At last, it was our time to enter The Port. The Sail guided us as we all grabbed our oars, and began to row. As we entered the Passage Way, the storm ceased! Our ship was just narrow enough to enter the mouth of The Port! Our hearts were full of joy and hope. We would finally get to see that Wonderful Port! None of us ever could have imagined the beauty that was before our eyes.

Expecting to see other ships docked, my expectation soon turned to surprise. There were no other ships there, just one dock large enough for our ship! All along the shore line were a great crowd of sailors cheering, those having sailed on The Narrow Way before. As we left the ship, crowns were placed upon our heads. As we stood before The Captain, none of us felt worthy to wear a crown. Confessing that Our Captain is Lord, we all knelt before Him, and placed our crowns at His feet.

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