WHEN MY EIGHT BELLS SOUND
Last week I visited Manteo, Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I wandered over to check out the Elizabeth II, a reproduction of one of the 69 foot square-rigged sailing vessels in which 50 men crossed the Atlantic to help colonize this strange New World for Mother England. https://www.outerbanks.com/elizabeth-ii.html
According to the lone “sailor” we met on the lower deck, beer mug in hand, only 24 of them were sailors. The others were landsmen, blacksmiths, carpenters and more. I check out the navigational equipment available at the time, standing in awe of the skill required to cross the oceans.
A bell caught my attention. What use a bell?
Well, eight bells would sound indicating the end of a watch. It might’ve been an uneventful watch or not.
Maybe a whale or a dolphin surfaced;
Maybe seagulls flew overhead signaling there was land nearby;
Maybe land was actually sighted;
Maybe it was a clear night watch with a starry sky;
Or a sunset, a sunrise;
Storm swept seas or barely moving water;
Full sails or no wind.
When my eight bells sound to indicate the end of my watch, what will I remember?
There were times when life was a moonlit night and gentle rolling waves;
There were times when the tiny vessel that was me thought I’d never see land again;
There were times when the joy of a sunrise, a breakthrough, a single moment of “yes!” brought me back to land safely.
Regrets? There would be more than a few.
Joy? Oh what joy I’d have to look back on.
I’ve tried and failed; I’ve tried and succeeded.
But overall, with all the ups and downs, sadness and joy, I think I will be able to say,
“It was a good watch.”
And I hope to hear the echo from my Heavenly Father,
Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”