Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

The Fourth Watch

Prologue

The morning watch, also called the fourth watch of the night, was my husband’s favorite duty assignment during his 20 years of service in the United States Coast Guard.  He liked that it was quiet and one had time to meditate on the beauty of the ocean as it passed from the darkness of night through the glory of the sunrise and on into the day.  It is significant also that during this watch the ship’s position is fixed relative to the morning star and the course for the day is set.

By nature I’m really not a morning person but I have come to deeply cherish my time with the Lord each morning.  In Baomahun this is the quietest time available, day or night.  In the still darkness of early morning, along with a cup of tea, I meet with my Lord as He graciously prepares my heart and stets my course for the approaching day.  

Thus we have the setting for the following thoughts which came during a particularly dark and turbulent time.

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Date of original journal entry: July 19, 2012

Matthew 14:25  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

Following the beheading of John the Baptist, a vigorous engagement with multitudes of thronging followers, feeding the 5000, ministering to many pressing needs in compassion and love, Jesus constrained his work-worn disciples “to get into a ship, and go before him unto the other side while … he went up into a mountain apart to pray.” (Matthew 14:22-23)  As darkness came on and the evening fell, Jesus was in prayer with his Father.  But out in the water, where Jesus had told them the go, the disciples were tossed about in the ship for the contrariness of the sea.  Life can be oh, so contrary at times and that’s just when we need Jesus the most.  But he left them to struggle against the waves and wind which beat on their small ship, alone and in the darkness of the storm.  Such a curious thing.  Why didn’t he go to their aid immediately?  He knew their fears; he saw the storm.

meditations from the morning watch

Sunrise through my kitchen window as I meet with the Lord to set the course for my day – Bible, journal, and ever present cup of tea!

Many people believe that once you have Jesus in your life that it’s all smooth sailing – fair winds and following seas, to borrow the nautical term for favorable conditions.  But my Bible reading teaches me otherwise.  Jesus sharpens and strengthens my faith by allowing me to struggle in life’s contrary winds and tides.  The boisterous winds gave Peter enough faith to get out of the boat and walk on the waves to Jesus.  I must allow such dark circumstances to build my faith not weaken it.  And notice, too, that Jesus allowed them to struggle for many hours; he went up into the mount at sunset and it wasn’t until the following sunrise that he came to them.  He may not “rescue” me when I think I need it most but will build my faith by not rushing to my aid.

Oh, my soul, toil on in the darkness of night, struggle against the contrary winds, build strong your faith, trust only in Him – he won’t let you sink.

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