“Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power.” – Caleb Colton
The captain was hubris and here are his officers:
Calico’s top brass of smiling faces and nodding heads did well because they appeared to be doing good. Their pleasant demeanor and non-confrontational attributes earned them a place in the inner circle. They were pleasing and loyal to the captain during peace. When tensions erupted, they never rose above the battlefield to see what was really happening. They hedged their bets that the captain would survive and wanted to remain in the good graces of the one they presumed would be in power. As you cannot serve two masters, their smiling faces and nodding heads were of service to none. Luke 12:48 tells us, 48 “But anyone who is not aware that he is doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater – (GNT). Was their search for the Savior obscured by the presence of a pleasant face? Did their comfort of going along to get along outweigh their requirement to stand up? Had they ever defined personal integrity such that they would know when that line had been crossed?
And then there was the top brass who cowered on the lower deck. These faithful soldiers usually lived their lives in neutral, moving along when impacted by another mass stronger than them. They were always propelled by institutional inertia but had no meaningful energy independent of other forces acting upon them. When caught in the downspout of the realization that the captain’s experience amounted to less than that of the most junior yeoman and that his actions imperiled all of the sailors, the sensory overload of it all as well as the storm and the mutiny overwhelmed them. They, opposite the ship, rocked onto their port sides. The motion of their jousting thoughts swayed their minds as they wondered if they could have made a difference. Everything they had previously heard along the way was worth repeating amongst themselves but they couldn’t find it within them to report any of it to anyone who could do something about it. James 1:22-24 says, “22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like” – (TLB). And so they lay, motionless on the lower deck of the sea-tossed ship. Did they ever feel confident enough to make a difference? Were they always only in it for themselves? Was there ever a moment when they offered him wise counsel? Where they rejected so much that they finally stopped trying?
The first officer had been one of Calico’s greatest supporters until he became the captain. He believed the captain to be a person of the people until his ego grew above his rank. He then believed the captain was a changed man. At that point, the first officer began providing closely held information to the offended sailors and the fleet’s stakeholders. He armed the sailors with sling shots and ensured the stone of the mutiny struck its intended target. “We often pretend to fear what we really despise, and more often despise what we really fear” – Caleb Colton. Was the first officer reacting out of scorn disguised as deception whose reality lay in the blindness that was before him? Was he reeling from the shame that he had never walked with kings and the guilt that, at least for a time, he lost his common touch? Open my eyes, so that I may see the wonderful truths in your law. – Psalm 119:18 (MSG)
The second officer operated with a spirit of courage and believed that, “Physical courage, which despises all danger, will make a man brave in one way; and moral courage, which despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another” – Caleb Colton. She moved the fastest and got the most done when the major crisis struck. She had previously advised the captain that the building material was inferior and pointed him in the direction of the craftsman but was counseled for the delivery of her interjection. She spoke with a smiler and a nodder to let them know the state of affairs only to receive a reprimand. She sent notes to her counterparts in the fleet and letters to regulators in the industry but no one responded. She met with the cowards and prophesied the mutiny and the storm, but they simply stood still. She listened to the first officer and encouraged him to take constructive action. She knows that the third officer’s report to headquarters will be the third time they have heard the story.
The third officer, motivated by a sense of duty, was troubled to have to deliver such harrowing news to headquarters. She knew that the captain’s actions were wrong and that sailors were in grave danger. Following the lead of the second officer, she helped to loosen the ropes of the life boat. Provided she lives, she knows others will ask her three questions: What she knew? When she knew it? What did she do about it? She believes she must have something respectable to say.
The saga continues on the Mediterranean, five miles off the Italian coast. While water permeates the ship’s hull, it allows the floating Rome to burn. Will 48 sailors make it to shore alive? What about the rest of the crew? Will the capsized ship sink? How will the officers answer for their actions? I will respond to those questions when the story ends. In the meantime, are there times in your life when you have exhibited the traits of each of these officers? Where are you on any given day when you forget to put on or give up your armor of faith, the knowledge of His word, the spirit of courage, the guidance from prayer and wise counsel, or a line of sight to the foot of the cross?
James 1:2-12 tells us, “2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. 9-11 When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing. 12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life” – (TLB).
In You Are I Am, Mercy Me reminds us that while we doubt, God delivers. I’ve been the one to shake with fear and wonder if You’re even here. I’ve been the one to doubt Your love. I’ve told myself You’re not enough. I’ve been the one to try and say I’ll overcome by my own shame. I’ve been the one to fall apart and start to question who You are. You’re the one who conquers giants. You’re the one who calls out kings. You shut the mouths of lions. You tell the dead to breathe. You’re the one who walks through fire. You take the orphan’s hand. You are the one Messiah. You are I am
When you choose to sit out, be prepared to stress out because the shame of standing by lasts a long time. If you choose to get strung out be prepared to stroke out because the guilt that comes from abandoning others can never be medicated enough. If you choose to stand out, you may strike out but you can rest with the dignity of knowing you gave it your all.