What made me join the Merchant Navy? Was it my early connections with the sea through living in Plymouth and then Guernsey, where the sea was visible from my school? Did the fact that the beach and the rocks were my out of school playground nudge me towards a maritime career? Perhaps getting to steer a cross-channel ferry when I was ten years old planted the seed of going to sea? Actually it was none of these. As a child the only thing I wanted to be was a pilot in the Royal Air Force.
Joining the RAF would have necessitated staying at school until I was eighteen years old. By the time I was fourteen the only thing I wanted to do was leave school at fifteen (you could in those days). After a process of negotiation with my parents I was set the task of finding a career that would meet with their approval. I did look at the RAF and the Royal Navy and the Army. But then I stumbled across the Merchant Navy. I started applying to shipping companies. The second company to interview me rescheduled the interview location from an office in London to one of their ships, which just happened to be in the Thames loading a cargo of cement. Seven months later I found myself flying to Sweden to join this ship as a navigating cadet. You can find that story in a post I wrote in 2012 (click to read).
Why wasn’t my career choice prompted by growing up on a small island with the sea all around me? I think the reason is that I came to take the sea and the incredible beauty of my island home for granted. I didn’t even realise that the sea was visible from the school playground until years later. Living now in a rural county of mainland England I no longer take the sea for granted. Fortunately my Dad still lives by the sea, as does my oldest son. This means I get to enjoy being by the sea regularly.
Just as I took the sea for granted as a child so the world seems to take God for granted. His signature is everywhere, yet by and large He is met with indifference or unbelief. The Bible says that we are not to take God for granted:
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:20 NLT)
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4 NLT)