Title:- The Master of My Own Ship?
Exodus 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire.
Robert Graves was born today in 1895. His classic memoirs of his time with the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the First World War, have worried my mind since I read them when I was in school, and that was many years ago!
Graves is not one of my favourite poets, yet from his book, ‘Fairies and Fusiliers’ (1918), the poem entitled ‘Smoke-Rings’ presents a penetrating and perturbing picture of God.
MOST venerable and learned sir,
Tall and true Philosopher,
These rings of smoke you blow all day
With such deep thought, what sense have they?
Small friend, with prayer and meditation
I make an image of Creation.
And if your mind is working nimble
Straightway you’ll recognize a symbol
Of the endless and eternal ring
Of God, who girdles everything
God, who in His own form and plan
Moulds the fugitive life of man.
These vaporous toys you watch me make,
That shoot ahead, pause, turn and break—
Some glide far out like sailing ships,
Some weak ones fail me at my lips.
He who ringed His awe in smoke,
When He led forth His captive folk,
In like manner, East, West, North, and South,
Blows us ring-wise from His mouth.
I imagine some comfortable and placid person may find comfort in such pictures of God blowing us like smoke rings for His own pleasure! However, it is only a comparative few that seem to possess such an ‘interesting’ attribute, such a desirable situation maybe. The vast majority of us appear to be intent on scrambling ever higher up the heap with all the vigor and dash that we can muster, to see what we can do, what we can make of ourselves on this perturbing and beautiful rock, bathed in blue, hanging like a forgotten Christmas bauble in the vastness of cold and empty space. Most of us are not content to muse and rest as smoke rings from the mouth of God.
As for me, well I am not a ‘sit down and wait for it to happen’ kind of guy. The double witness of my bowels and grey hair will testify to that! Oh no, I like to make things happen. So friends, a large part of my character doesn’t particularly appreciate this poetic picture. Are we not after all, the master of our own ship? Are we not all masters of our own fate?
Listen:- So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Romans 9:16-18
Pray:- Great King, You who ringed Your awe in smoke, forgive me when I forget myself. You are the potter and I am the clay. You are both Master and Commander of this my little and creaking ship. You are the Creator and I am the creature. Yet Lord, I am a creature borne of and bearing Your image. Father, help me to rule wisely and humbly my own heart and Your great creation; the day and the darkness, the light and the shadow of my life, before you dear Jesus, majestic Lord over all. You are the Lord; yes, You are the Lord and for your pleasure was I created. Help me to live to feel Your pleasure upon my upturned and waiting face, as You blow me from your lips into the center of Your will for me. Amen.