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Eight Bells and Hebrews 11:13-16

March 5, 2012

Hebrews 11:13-16, These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

1 Chronicles 29:15, For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.

There is an etching by Winslow Homer titled ‘Eight Bells’.  It is most excellent in every way.  It is of two navigators on a wooden ship on a stormy sea.  They each hold a sextant, one sighting the horizon, the other reads the settings on his instrument.  They wear storm coats and hats and the sea rolls and the sky is cloudy and the wind blows.  They are on a journey and they rely on their instrument to know their location and correct heading and their progress home.  The captain may direct the ship and crew, but they direct the captain and are themselves directed by their instruments and their skill in using them.  If their instruments are true and understood rightly then one day they will make it home and that will be the end of their journey.  There are no markers in the dark sea.  They must look to the sky for guidance and to know their progress.  They journey on a rough sea in changing weather.  They make their way with difficulty and may sometime get lost along the way.  They use their instruments skillfully and study them and their world, but they depend on the heavens.  It is here that the etching takes on meaning, and it is well stated.  The storm and the rolling sea, like life, obscure their view and make their journey hard, but at least they have instruments to guide them and they travel together with the rest of their company on the ship.  Their journey is a mystery most of the time, even when the sea is calm and the wind is fair.  Even then they cannot see their destination and must still trust their instruments.  And so it is, navigating a stormy existence, looking to the Word, confident yet hoping to one day make it safely home from a journey on a foreign sea that so far no one has come back from, except for One, the One who shows the way.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie Unruh permalink
    March 5, 2012 11:21 am

    Simply beautiful!

    We’re praying for you and the family as you rest in Him and await His whispered call for the next step. I know so well the peace that passes understanding in the midst of stormy seas. May God continue to bless you with His gift of peace.

    • March 5, 2012 12:16 pm

      Thanks Debbie, for praying and your compliment means a lot because of your expertise.


  1. Eight Bells and Jeremiah Burroughs « plodblog

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