Drop the anchor, furl the sail …

So part of my holiday weekend involved sailing on the Chesepeake Bay, which was both the first time I’d been out on that particular body of water as well as my first time sailing. It was one of those large vessels that you rent with thirty or so of your closest friends whom you meet for the first time standing in line on the dock to board.

Anyway, it was a delightful experience, not least of all because it brought to life some of the antique imagery in so many old gospel tunes that remain dead metaphors for many of us, who don’t literally bring in the sheaves anymore, or leave the fold to find one little lost lamb or, in this case, get on board an old ship … is that the old ship of Zion I see … which I was singing (mostly to myself) on and off much of the time I was on the water.

The excursion I was on involved heading out an hour or so into the bay, coming around and heading back to the Annapolis marina. When the sails were fully unfurled and the boat gaining speed, I had no trouble understanding how songwriters from the days when sailing was a common part of everyday life would find in the experience a sense of majesty and power to be mobilized in lyrical imagery. Having only ever spent time on the water in fully motored crafts (save for canoes), I thought I had prepared myself for riding the waves in comparative silence. But of course intellection and experience are entirely different forms of knowledge, and it was thrilling the way the schooner cut through and shot across the water with quiet, astonishing power.

The weather was glorious (it was a few days before the crushing heat arrived), but when we came back into the marina, I thought of an old nineteenth-century song about piloting the ship of the soul safely home amidst the storms of life. I discovered it in researching the book, and had, conveniently enough, just picked out a few bars of it on the piano before I left for holiday. And so as we glided into port with the Maryland hills rising up before us, I hummed the first verse lightly to myself:

Land ahead! Its fruits are waving
O’er the hills of fadeless green;
And the living waters laving
Shores where heav’nly forms are seen.

Rocks and storms I’ll fear no more,
When on that eternal shore;
Drop the anchor! Furl the sail!
I am safe within the vail!

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  1. irishlad wrote:

    you get saved doug?

  2. Odeliya wrote:

    @1 ? he wasn’t drowning.

  3. cdguy wrote:

    Odeliya, if you’d been following this blog for long, you’d know many on here believe he IS drowning (spiritually).

  4. Lisa wrote:

    One thing I have discovered in my art classes is that there is a very specific message that I get from throwing pottery, either on a wheel or in handbuilding, that lights up the meanings of some things better now than they ever could have been before.

    The process, not just of firing, but of the actual sculpting taught me how flexible I must be, if I am the clay to a Divine Potter…and how much work is required to make me a vessel “meet for His use.”

    Now I can’t wait to get on a sailboat.

  5. pk wrote:

    You should go on the sailboats in Camden Harbor Maine. They have 3 to 4 day trips that are just magnificent and the beauty of the area along makes you know there is a heaven.

  6. Joe wrote:

    The Scriptural teaching behind this imagery is beautiful. In Hebrews 6:17-20, the writer teaches that the Lord Jesus is our “forerunner”. He was the first man in bodily form, to ever enter Heaven. Because He is there, the soul of every saved human is now anchored in Heaven.

    In Biblical days, many of the coastal ports had sea-walls built around them, to protect the harbor from the heavy waves. If a ship needed to anchor in the port, it was often difficult to sail the big ship through the small entrance in the sea-wall. The anchor was placed in a small boat, and the strongest of the crew rowed hat little boat, carrying the anchor, in through the opening of the sea-wall, and when at the right spot, dropped the ship’s anchor. Once anchored, the larger ship was able to safely sail into port. That smaller boat was called the “forerunner”.

    Spiritually speaking, this is what the risen Savior, now back in Heaven, has done for every true child of God, washed clean by His precious blood.

    “This hope we have, as an anchor of the soul…”

  7. judi wrote:

    Appreciated this post very much. It makes me think of a trip on a much noisier boat to the Apostle Islands a decade or so ago.

  8. QwertyJuan wrote:

    #5 - If you were from Maine it would be “Camden Hahbuh”!! :)

  9. KDM wrote:

    Maryland is in my neck of the woods, Doug! Hope that you got to tour Annapolis while you were here. It’s a fascinating town, with lots of great history!

  10. Irishlad wrote:

    6 Joe,that comment was “ship shape and Bristol fashioned”.

  11. Alan wrote:

    Having lived in Annapolis for 14 years, with the Bay at the end of my street, I loved this post. As a Christian, I loved it even more. That was beautiful. Joe - awesome pickup, and thanks for that.

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