There are many beautiful things in the world around us, but pearls can only be discovered in the depths of the sea; if we wish to possess spiritual pearls we must plunge into the depths, that is, we must pray, we must sink down into the secret depths of contemplation and prayer. Then we shall perceive precious pearls.
Sadhu Sundar Singh
On summer vacation along the Oregon coast in days gone by, I bought a vintage brass plate at a flea market by the sea that read:
'Oh, God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.'
The line is from the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer, a poem by Winfred Ernest Garrison. A plaque declaring it sat on the desk of President John F. Kennedy, which was presented to him and every new submarine captain by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of nuclear Navy. Rickover served longer than any other naval officer in American history. His was a life well acquainted with the sea.
I found the plaque in the midst of a chaotic mess of vintage accoutrements related to navigating the sea: anchors with remnants of dried algae still attached, life rings that didn’t look like they could save anyone anymore, nets and ropes of every variety, and a diving bell or two that were obviously highly collectible based on the sun-faded price tags attached. I don’t recall the price that I paid for the treasure mined out of the vast selection of goods that day, but I was delighted to have found it, for it stirred my heart and soul.
I tucked it into the back of my Bible for protection on the journey home. Shortly after making my way back, a new Bible I'd ordered arrived on my doorstep, and my old one found a place on my bookshelf. I forgot that my vacation souvenir was still tucked in its pages. I thought about the brass plate a time or two throughout the years that followed, but I couldn’t remember where I had put it for safekeeping. I figured it had been lost.
One day, I went looking for some notes that I recalled penning in the margins of that old Bible of mine. While I was searching its pages, the brass plate fell out.
I loved it even more than the first time I found it. I cherished it, in fact. It had an even greater depth of meaning to me now.
The plate needed a little cleaning, so I gently polished it to remove the tarnish and oxidation from a life at sea for who knows how long. I framed it and gave it a new home on my office bookshelf. I wondered whose boat it had been on and if they loved the God who can still a storm to a whisper and hush the waves of the sea.
I had grown so much in my knowledge and understanding of God since my vacation at the sea – the more that you know Him, the more you love Him. And I have so many precious friends who have helped me along on the journey of faith through the decades. We have navigated the seas of life together. Each friend is most precious to me.
A quote by Abraham Kuyper comes to mind as I think about my friends – most specifically, Roy Lessin and the investment he has made into my life:
“He is your friend who pushes you nearer to God.”
Roy's is a life also well acquainted with the sea. He taught me to dive into the depths of God’s love and find hope and help there, those precious pearls. Eight years have passed since my first letter made its way from my house to his, and every day I thank God for him and his precious wife, Charlene.