On Dec. 18, 1944 just north of Luzon a 300- foot warship made ready for heavy weather. The hatches were fastened down and the gear secured. Whipped by howling winds, the rain came down in torrents and giant waves rolled over the ship as the typhoon rushed forward.
In the wheelhouse the captain studied the situation, deciding what to do next. Even he became alarmed when his ship rolled 70 degrees to the starboard and righted itself.
How do you keep a vessel afloat against such odds? The captain was a master seaman. First, he reduced the speed. Then, keeping the propellers going and using the rudder as a guide, he headed the ship straight into the storm.
On board a young seaman, Ernest Miller, watched the whole affair with keen interest. He learned a lot that day about ships and storms that he never forgot. And he later decided that the lessons applied not only to ships but also to the voyage of life.
Perhaps the greatest lesson he learned was this: Heading into the storm the ship is safe. Turned from it, the ship is doomed. When the storm heaved the ship around and beat broadside against the hull it almost capsized as two sister ships did.
Looking back on the experience later he wrote, “The voyage of life is like that. And the storms of life can be overcome in the same way. First of all, the storms of life must be faced if we are to cope with them. Half the battle is sizing up our problems and meeting them objectively. When we close our eyes, hoping that somehow they will go away, we are in big trouble. It is then that we capsize.
Reducing speed, that is important, too. Slowing down gives us a chance to think clearly, to make wise decisions based on sound judgment.
Keep the propellers going— that steady push from within, faith in the goodness and love of God and confidence in his power to keep makes all the difference in the world.
Finally, remember the rudder of prayer. At the height of the storm, it is prayer that keeps us steady. It is prayer that keeps us facing into the winds of adversity until they pass.
Jesus reminded us at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount that storms come into the lives of all of us. There is nothing we can do to prevent the storms, but we can learn how to handle our ships.
Against the storm keep your head bowed low, that’s common sense. But keep your heart high, that’s better still. And remember that the longest storm the world has ever known, and the worst, came to an end one bright morning Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.