When the first ship set sail in 1942, it didn’t have far to go. The wind currents seemed to drive it towards shore, where it beached itself for several years. The captain’s first mate abandoned ship within a couple of months, leaving the two young seamen alone.

Eventually an older couple, known to the first mate, agreed to rescue the seamen. The captain then set sail for two more years, finishing his tour of duty before deciding to remain ashore.

He then found a second mate. They both picked up the two seamen from the older couple and began a new life in a new port-of-entry.

However, times were difficult because of the financial strain on the country at the time. Due to their finances, needs were difficult to address. For several years, it seemed as though the captain, second mate, and the two seamen were living and trying to make ends meet by working on a slave ship, even though they were still beached.

During one bad winter there seemed to be a tsunami that washed away much of what the crew had accumulated. A rescue crew found them and was able to supply food, clothes, and better living quarters. However, the rescue didn’t happen until one of the crewmen was able to shout loud enough that passersby heard him.

Shortly thereafter, the captain decided to attend a meeting where the rescue crew met a couple times a week. The first time they attended, a man standing behind a wooden thing called a pulpit, began a speech entitled, ‘Mission Impossible.’ He went on to say things such as, “One of my favorite things to hear is a ‘rags-to-riches’ story — not a story of someone who literally went from homeless to living in a mansion, but who did so spiritually.”

“Spiritually?” As the speaker continued, the captain was struggling to keep his understanding above water.

“I am amazed at the riches of God’s grace,” said the speaker. “Grace that still is available to take sinners from poverty to wealth. And when God wants something done, when he has some kingdom ‘Mission Impossible’ to accomplish, he goes looking for someone to set sail.

He’s looking for people who will risk the waves in the storms of life to unload a cargo of love and mercy. He is looking for men and women who will put the Lord’s will above everything else stacked on their own dock.”

The captain looked around the room. A few people appeared to be writing things on paper. When the speaker quoted verses from the Bible, the captain decided to make notes on an envelope he found on the back of the chair in front of him.

The speaker read verses from Proverbs 22, and then continued for some time with Proverbs 23, 24, and 2 Corinthians 8. Although the speaker read all four chapters, mentioning things such as: wealth, poverty, slaves, the greedy rich, gluttony, drunkenness, wisdom, stupidity, honesty vs. dishonesty, and judgment of motives, the captain decided he wanted to read those chapters himself. And so he borrowed a Bible lying beneath his chair to take home.

The speaker reread verse 9 of 2 Corinthians: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.” He then encouraged the crowd to, “Be generous givers, as the Lord directs you to help those in need.”

Prior to dismissing the crowd, the speaker went on to say, “The Bible offers Jesus Christ as the example we are to follow. Not only did he leave the riches of heaven for the poverty of an earthly life, but also in that earthly life he chose to be born in poverty and died in the most extreme poverty imaginable. He went about doing good, with nowhere to lay his own head. And then he hung naked and in agony on the cross. He did this in order that you might become rich — that you might have all the spiritual treasures he had. Jesus has shown us the supreme example of ‘rich generosity’ and what it means to ‘become rich.’”

When the speaker paused, the captain and his mate turned toward each other as they both nodded their heads with a look of understanding and resolve.

Prior to offering a departing prayer, the speaker stated, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”

The captain and his crew headed home. And just prior to turning into the driveway leading to the quaint cottage they were currently living in, the wind picked up and a gust blew green leaves from nearby trees across their path, causing the youngest crew member, to record a mental picture in his memory.

Years later, the youngest crew member, who had been on several different missions in different lands, and who had experienced a life he felt was more like riding not only waves, but the roller coaster of life, experienced an unexpected life-changing voyage. He and his mate were given an opportunity to begin voyaging waters in areas they had never experienced before.

Today they are doing what is possible to fulfill the mission they have set sail to accomplish — knowing that the Captain will make sure they reach the Main Shore some day.

— Allen Stark can be reached at amsstark@msn.com.

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