A Ship in Harbor is Safe


In a couple of weeks, my dad is retiring after over 40 years of working in the shipbuilding industry. My mom mentioned a few days ago that she had gotten a fortune cookie with a message about ships. She asked if there was some way we could incorporate that ship theme into my dad’s upcoming retirement party.

I just got home from dropping my parents off at the airport for a Thanksgiving trip. My mom cleaned out her fridge of any food that would go bad and put it in a bag for me to take home to my family. When I opened the bag, nestled at the top of the food was a small Ziploc bag with a fortune cookie message inside. I pulled it out and smiled as I read the message:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built.”

Honestly, I had to laugh. You see, this wasn’t the first time I had read this. About 18 months ago, my godmother gave me a card for my birthday with a ship on the front and the exact same saying on the inside. I love how the Lord typically has a dual purpose in any message He gives us.

This message will undoubtedly have very different meanings for my dad and me. I can only speculate what it will mean to him. But for me, it was a subtle reminder that I’ve been playing it too safe. I’ve been hiding in the safe waters of the harbor where I am more comfortable.

But doesn’t this message apply to anyone who follows the Lord? We are called to be out in the deep waters where the wind and waves and storms exist. It was Jesus who calmed the storm that the disciples thought would surely kill them. And how did He calm that raging storm? He spoke. He calmly used His authority to speak into that situation and change the circumstances around Him.

Jesus did not shy away from difficult circumstances. No, He was fully entangled in the muck and mess of humanity. As His followers, we are meant to follow our Lord’s example. He has given each of us a sphere of influence and authority to make positive changes around us. We don’t have to have a roadmap laid out before us or all of the answers. When we see a need and feel the Lord’s prompting to help, all we have to do is take the first step. The rest will follow.

Ships carry cargo. Any captain knows that a ship’s cargo will not reach its destination unless they leave port, take a voyage, and risk whatever they may encounter out at sea. Ships are built tough and sturdy to handle anything the sea throws at them. As God’s people, we are built the same way. And, we too will not reach our destination unless we leave the safety of the harbor.


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