WHEN SHIPS SAIL AWAY
By: Darrelyn L. Tutt
Esther Erickson was one of God’s elect and chosen earthly saints. Displaying a rare maturity of the Christian faith in word and conduct; her life bore out a visual testimony of God’s grace through servanthood in remarkable ways. Her knowledge and love for the word of God was edifying and stimulating and her communion with God was one of deliberate, daily fervency.
I was privileged to know Esther only for a short time, although her testimony had earned her my respect before our relationship began. With this brief overview of Esther’s life, I’d like to share an excerpt out of a chapter from this godly woman’s life.
Esther walked into a teaching vocation upon her completion of school. Her responsible, dependable, and loving demeanor made her a “shoe-in” for such a position. One might say she was made for it, although she believed it was given her for another reason:
Somewhere in those early years, Esther was called into the foreign mission field. An inner war raged within her as she contemplated all she would have to give up in order to go. She prayed earnestly; the call remained the same. Ultimately, her reason won out: She was a young single woman and her singleness, alone, would translate into many obstacles and unforeseen problems. Fears and doubts assailed and prevailed until she finally said, “no.”
The ship sailed without her.
Esther kept teaching but she now struggled with a deep gnawing in her spirit. All was not well in her soul and she knew why ...
She had refused God’s call on her life and was suffering the internal consequence of unrest.
Attempts to justify her decisions and assurance from others proved useless. The matter was between her and the Lord and communion had been severed through disobedience. Her sensitive spirit was clearly instructed on what she needed to do; in humility and deep remorse she went before the Lord and repented of her sin. God freely forgave her and peace and communion were fully restored. She emerged with a greater spiritual fervor and a deeper spiritual maturity.
She prayed for a second opportunity on the mission field, now certain that her response would be immediate and positive ... and she waited,
even attempting to manipulate circumstances that might bridge her with foreign soil.
In that time she learned that another had taken her place and her space had been filled. She prayed in earnest over the situation and then one morning the Lord spoke to her with clarity:
“Esther, I called and you refused but you repented and I forgave freely and fully. The ship sailed out months ago and your work will now be here.”
Esther submitted to God’s will and God opened up a door in the education field and used her in the public school system to touch hundreds of boys and girls with the love and Gospel of Christ.
To think that someone as godly as “an Esther” had endured such a profound spiritual regret impressed me deeply. Perhaps “you” are reading this and it is relating to a situation in your life.
Let me highlight 3 significant lessons:
1) Disobedience can have long-term effects and, still, God will be faithful to His nature and His promise.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
2) Some ships sail away and we need to respond obediently in our current harbor instead of lingering over an ocean of regret over past decisions. The insights learned in such seasons transpire into godly insights and lessons that need not be repeated and can be used in testimony to credit God’s faithfulness. God will use these lessons and bring them to our remembrance to guide future steps.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:11
3) God will fully restore the individual that humbly comes to Him in repentance.
“And if any man sin, we have an advocated with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 2:1-2a
I have missed a few ships of my own, through disobedience and lack of surrender, and learned that God is indeed rich in mercy, grace, and lovingkindness. The truths of His righteous nature are independent of my fickle nature and He is simply good because He is simply God.
Like Esther, I strain with a renewed inward intensity to move with the Spirit and respond obediently to today’s instruction, trusting that God will, in His sovereignty, orchestrate yesterday’s responses for a future glory that I cannot comprehend in my present harbor. In this acceptance I find that I live in a defined way that says,
“It is well with my soul.”
May you be strengthened and encouraged in your walk with Christ today and may you experience a special grace ...
If your ship has sailed away.