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Awesome is not a word we used much when I was sixteen, although awesome would more than adequately describe my experience of joining my first ship (see previous post), being on my first ship, and being in a foreign country for the first time in my life. I think I was in awe of pretty much everything. Flying on my own, getting the first stamp in my brand-new passport, the ship, the people on board, Sweden. It was all good. It was all awesome  to sixteen-year old me.

I wonder if I would have the same sense of awe if I boarded my first ship now, some forty-eight years later. I realise that she was sold for scrap many years ago, but I guess that what I once considered state of the art would now belong in a museum. Take the bridge equipment for instance. Does anyone still use Decca Navigator? The radars would be well out of date superseded years ago by digital equivalents, combined I assume with GPS and electronic charts. Are paper charts and sextants still in use? Do they still teach navigating cadets morse code and semaphore?

The now dated bridge of the Sheaf Royal. The ship was 12 months old when this photograph was taken in October 1973.

The last time I signed onto a ship was in 1993. The kit was all pretty similar to what I was accustomed to from twenty years previous. I think I’d have a shock if joined a ship now. Although I consider myself handy with modern technology, I reckon I’d be in awe once again at the bridge equipment on a modern ship.

When I was twelve years old I met Jesus for the first time. Not in person but it might just as well have been a face-to-face meeting. Awe does not begin to describe what I experienced. The knowledge that came on that day at summer camp overwhelmed me and I was effervescent with joy. Returning home the awe and the joy faded and by the end of the summer had virtually gone, to return nearly six years later in a small church that I stumbled upon in South Shields while undertaking six months’ block release at marine school. What attracted me to that church? Quite simply the sense of awe and joy that was written all over the faces of those who worshipped there.

Just a few years later after being promoted to second mate and keeping the 12-4 watch I recall the sense of awe as I stood on the bridge wing at two in the morning while my lookout was down below having his break. This left me alone on the bridge beneath the most glorious and awesome display of heavenly bodies, all visible so clearly on the darkest of nights.

How do we maintain a deep sense of awe in and of our Heavenly Father? When life is full of distractions and often littered with pain how easy it is to lose our joy and forget the one who gives joy. But if the joy of knowing God is not visible in us then how will people who know us but don’t know God come to know Him? It was the joy visible in the lives of followers of Jesus that first attracted me to Him, and then brought me back to Him. We have an awesome God. Are we joyful/joy-filled about that?

Jesus said: “If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:36 NLT.)