One thing I have become accustomed to is the impeccable timing of God. Early in ministry, I thought most situations that turned out unexpectedly well were coincidences, naively sure that my life was my own. As years passed, too many situations occurred in which the confluence of people, skills, timing were just “too good to be true.” Such surprises opened my eyes, convincing me that God is behind the scenes of life in unseen ways.
Guidance, provision, protection, and each breath of life is guarded and guided in loving and accepting ways, even when we refuse to realize it. In recent years, I realized this confidence supports most seafarers who spend months and years at sea. Most of what we call coincidence is really God at work placing people and situations before us for our benefit. With few exceptions, seafarers are aware of God’s protecting hand in the little things, such as calming of the seas, guiding them through a storm, easing a engineless vessel into safe harbor to anchor for repairs, and the chaplain’s visit just after hearing a brother died at home the previous week.
“To everything there is a season…..” Solomon tells us, as he laments how the many seasons of life have a Godly purpose. In maritime ministry people come and go, part of the seasons of an industry that expects changes like the weather. Shipping in even 10 years has the industry has shifted a few times, the needs of seafarers adjusts with the changes in technology, and practical needs for communication requires learning all the time by those in ministry. Years ago, a chaplain boarded ships with rolls of quarters for pay phones located on each dock. A few years later, mobile phones with international calling cards were necessary (and much lighter). Now we are asked for SIM cards and await the next change enabling seafarers to connect with loved ones at home.