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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.

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,

“Well done!”

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.”


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