There was another British ship at anchor not far upstream from the Stolt Sheaf when she was stuck in the Shatt-Al Arab river back in May 1975. This vessel, whose name I can’t remember, was a P&O refrigerated cargo ship. I’m not sure how the relationship between the two ships began. It was probably down to deck officers from the two ships chatting on VHF during their anchor watches. At some point a trade in beer developed as we swapped Tennants lager from Scotland for Fosters lager from Australia.
This trade between the two British ships led to social events. The authorities shoreside didn’t object to the two ships putting lifeboats down and running up and down the river. One night several P&O officers were drinking in our bar. I got into conversation with their electrician. He was twenty-eight years old with everything he had ever wanted in life. He described it to me in significant detail – a great flat (apartment), a great car, and a great girlfriend. He showed me the expensive Seiko wristwatch he had bought earlier in the trip when his ship was in Japan. In contrast as a poor cadet I had very little. No flat, no car at the time, and Marilyn (my wife) and I had only just started writing to each other. I didn’t have a Seiko watch, but I wanted one. I did buy one in Singapore a couple of weeks later, but that’s another story.
It struck me that the P&O electrician had just about everything in this life while being totally unprepared for the next life. Neither of us were aware that he would be passing into the next life later that night. What happened? Well, trying to climb from a ship’s lifeboat onto an accommodation ladder can be challenging. It is even more difficult after a few beers. The electrician fell into the river while trying to board his ship and was swept away by the current. We put one of our boats down to assist with the search, but he was gone. It was three weeks before his body was found. I have never forgotten him telling me how perfect his life was and how he had everything he had ever wanted. Sadly, he died without the one thing he really needed but didn’t have; a relationship with his Creator.
Then he (Jesus) told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NLT)
Note: If you think you have read this previously it is because I shared it on this blog back in 2011. The 2011 version has been slightly edited but the message remains the same: we all need a relationship with our Creator.
Ken Welford said:
Good blog David. I don’t remember having heard th
Gary Fultz said:
How sad. One should keep that story close for those who need it. I could see you saying to someone “be careful. The last guy I met who seemed to have everything lost it all that night….)
That’s the kind of story I would use for men’s breakfast devotional. We meet once a month and it’s a wild mix of guys from many walks of life.
I had only got baptised a couple of months earlier Gary. I could have told him about that, but I didn’t.
Gary Fultz said:
I sure understand that.
I’m so thankful I never gained a liking for beer, and was always wary of not being ready if I needed to drive. Mind you I did once buy a rather smart Seiko watch. Bought about 20 years ago – and which simply refused to keep good time after about 10 years of service. Needless to say I’ve done without watches in recent years. My phone has clock – so I find a watch superfluous.
I find most watches too heavy on my wrist. The Seiko I bought in Singapore is still going and still keeps good time – after 48 years!