Chaplain’s Corner: XVIII

“The Captain”

It’s been over 30 years ago but I will never forget that time in my life and ministry. I came to First Presbyterian Church in 1985 as Senior Pastor. What a great and daunting opportunity God had called me to here in Muncie. I knew it would be necessary to have a competent staff if we were to accomplish the goals and challenges before the church back in 1985.

Fortunately, the church called a great young man finishing his last year of seminary. In short, Paul and I were like brothers. We respected each other, had fun together and shared the same goals for the church. The church grew in spirit and in membership. Paul was charismatic and incredibly kind and loving. The congregation loved him and so did I. After seven years as our Associate Pastor he was called to a church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Looking back, I realize I was in grief after Paul left. The whole congregation was in grief. We did not call anyone right away to take Paul’s place and with the church now growing it was much more than one Pastor could possibly handle. It was a very tough year for me and our session (church board) realized I was really stressed. At one of our meetings they said to me, “Where would you and Susan like to go on vacation?” We will send you!” Wow! They finally said to me, “We are sending you on a cruise.” We had never been on a cruise and what an adventure was ahead.

The morning we left for the cruise was the “storm of the century”…30 degrees in Miami when we arrived. Snow and ice everywhere. 500 people did not make the ship for departure. When we left there were 15 ft. swells on the ocean.

The second day we were to have dinner with the Captain. Then the announcement came over the intercom: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain. I am sorry to disturb you before dinner but we have received a signal that there is a small boat with people aboard drifting several miles to our starboard and we need to make a course correction to see if we can help.” It was getting dark outside and the swells were still large on the ocean. Before long, searchlights were sweeping the waters. Thirty minutes went by then an hour. And there it was—a small cabin cruiser with no power drifting helplessly. People gathered on the top deck to see the amazing rescue of the four people who could not have survived much longer.

Beforehand, the cruise had been all about us. How much would we eat? How much fun would we have? But now we knew we were sailing with someone who would stop everything and come after us. Everything had changed.

But that’s nothing. Think what the Creator of the Cosmos did.

When we ourselves were doing the wrong things at the wrong places at the wrong
time and drifting through life, God pulled out all the stops and came for you and me.

The Lord stopped everything in order to come for us in person, offering the gift of ultimate security in Jesus Christ.

In the end, that’s how many would describe the meaning of life.

We’re all invited to meet the Captain and sit at the table with him. Better still,
we get to participate in the drama of helping others who are adrift meet him too.


Ron Naylor, Chaplain