In a life that had already been full of goodbyes I struggled to say goodbye to Marilyn for the first time after we were married. Only two months had passed since the sun shone for us on our wedding day and here I was leaving her behind while I sailed back to the West Indies alone. I accept that this was my job, my chosen career, and that the pay was so good that we had been able to put a deposit on a house, obtain a mortgage, and furnish that house thereby transforming it into a home. But a home is meant to be lived in, and a husband and wife are meant to be together. It could have been worse. My longest trip lasted nearly seven months. With Geest Line I worked two-on, one-off and had a regular ship so I knew that after every fifty-six days on ship I would have twenty-eight days at home.
I was next at home from 2-30 July 1979. My expected fifty-six days on the Geestland became twenty-eight and I was sent home on leave early because the company needed a second mate for the Geestcrest at the beginning of September. This resulted in me losing several days of leave and having to join a ship that was not my ship. I had become quite comfortable sailing on the same vessel and now I had to get to know new people. That trip on the Geestcrest was the decider. I knew that if I didn’t come ashore pronto I would be stuck at sea forever, kept there by the career plan and the high salary. I resigned at the end of the trip. I still had paid leave and finding employment ashore while not urgent was a necessity. More importantly, I had given up the sea for the one person that mattered to me more than a career and good pay (see this post from 2016: https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/for-the-love-of-my-wife/).
When I first placed my trust in God as a twelve-year old I had absolutely no idea of the ways that He would watch over me, protect me, guide me, counsel me, and just generally walk alongside me. The sense of awe I have in knowing Him has not diminished fifty-two years later. I still see His hand on my life and it humbles me greatly to know how much God cares for someone like me. I am so unworthy but still He is with me.
Coming ashore as I did in October 1979 was very timely. The first job I found was with a plumber, who wanted to train someone up without having the costs of providing an apprenticeship. Three weeks after I started this job my father-in-law was killed, just four months after he had taken early retirement. Tragically he died without a faith in God.
If I hadn’t joined the Geestcrest I would not have left Geest Line. If I had stayed with Geest Line I would have been in the middle of the ocean on that fateful day when Marilyn’s Dad died. It was important that I was at home. These were the darkest of days for our family, God knew about them and made sure I was on terra firma to provide support to Marilyn and her Mum.
I could provide many other examples of God’s providence for me and our family, both at sea and on shore. He never ceases to amaze me. I can’t understand why anyone would attempt to navigate this life without Him.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39 NLT)