The Parable of the Tall Ships

by Jeff Joslyn

A wise captain and owner of a fleet of sea vessels, went down to the docks to see a man who sold ships: large multi-masted ships that were capable of sailing the high seas.

The owner of the marina said that he only had two ships available. "One," he explained, "just came from the builders, the other, just in from the storm."

The seller proceeded to explain, "You know that great storm where many ships were lost? 'The worst storm of the century,' some are saying! Well, that's where the one here that's so tore up came out of. She's gonna need lots of work. She just came in here recently, limping in out of that storm like a beat dog. As you can see two of the masts are cracked near the base; I'm surprised they didn't break clean off like the main mast did. And she's pretty banged up all over as well. She'll need lots of repairs and a good scrub and polish of course 'fore she's fit to sail again."

And then excitedly he turned the master sailor to show him the brand new ship. A grand and tall masted ship. The Captain had to squint his eyes to shield them from all the brightness that reflected off the polished chrome and brass and bronze that adorned the magnificent new sailing vessel.

"Now this here is a beauty. She's a bit pricey but worth every penny. She's brand spankin' new never been outside this here jetty. We just put her in the water the other day," he grinned- proud of this grand ship and sure to make a good profit from her sale. "She is a beauty, that she is!" remarked the wizened sea veteran but he turned to the beat up and broken old vessel that lay bruised in the water and propositioned the seller "How much will you take for that one." The harbormaster looked pleadingly at the Captain and began to say, "if its money that's the problem" but the Captain cut him short saying, "No, no, you know I run a large fleet and money is not the issue here."

And as the seller looked even more incredulous and uncomprehending (for he had seen that the wise Captain was impressed by this new ship that he had shown him) the wise sea veteran went on to explain "You see, this here ship isn't much to look at, but she can be cleaned up and the masts when repaired will be even stronger than before. Where many other ships failed and were lost in the great storm this one came through. Barely, mind you, 'tis obvious to me, and worse for the wear. We know now that she has been tested, and sorely tried. But she made it through the worst this ole sea can throw at her. Now who would you want to trust your life and the life of your crew to this one here which has never been to sea and may or may not make it when truly tested or this one, which with a few repairs will be as good or better than new. And we know she can survive the rough stuff."

At this, the harbormaster disappointed he didn't sell the more expensive boat, still had to admire the wisdom of the Wise sea Captain's words and his choice. And so, ready to restore the broken vessel and add it to his fleet, the Captain purchased it. And as he departed he turned and said to the seller, "And don't worry. That other is a fine looking ship and most people are overly impressed by outward appearance. You should have no trouble selling her. And who knows maybe she'd be a safe bet after all."

Like the wise sea Captain, God is choosing vessels for his own fleet and for his own purpose. Many in this hour have been beaten and bruised, broken and marred, while sailing the seas of spiritual life. But God is able to restore and make even stronger than at the first.

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