The Second Sailor

READ 2 Chronicles 32:24-33:25

SITUATION Hezekiah's son Manasseh succeeded him. Manasseh worshiped false gods as his ancestors had done. But God caused him to turn from his sin.

OBSERVATION It was out of his great need that Manasseh turned to God. The Lord hears our prayers and shows great mercy.

INSPIRATION You know the story of Peter, the first sailor. Let me tell you about the second, whose name was John.

He had served on the seas since he was eleven years old. His father, an English ship-master in the Mediterranean, took him abroad and trained him well for a life in the Royal Navy.

Yet what John gained in experience, he lacked in discipline. He mocked authority. Ran with the wrong crowd. Indulged in the sinful ways of a sailor. Although his training would have qualified him to serve as an officer, his behavior caused him to be flogged and demoted.

In his early twenties, he made his way back to Africa, where he became intrigued with the lucrative salve trade. At age twenty-one, he made his living on the Greyhound, a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

John ridiculed the moral and poked fun at the religious. He even made jokes about a book that would eventually help reshape his life: The Imitation of Christ. In fact, he was degrading that book a few hours before his ship sailed into an angry storm.

That night the waves pummeled the Greyhound, spinning the ship one minute on the top of a wave. Plunging her the next into a watery valley.

John awakened to find his cabin filled with water. A side of the Greyhound had collapsed. Ordinarily such damage would have sent a ship to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The Greyhound, however, was carrying buoyant cargo and remained afloat.

John worked at the pumps all night. For nine hours, he and the other sailors struggled to keep the ship from sinking. But he knew that it was a losing cause. Finally, when his hopes were more battered than the vessel, he threw himself on the salt-water-soaked deck and pleaded, "If this will not do, then Lord have mercy on us all."

John didn't deserve mercy, but he received it. The Greyhound and her crew survived.

John never forgot God's mercy show on that tempestuous day in the roaring Atlantic. He returned to England where he became a prolific composer. You've sung his songs, like this one:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

This slave-trader-turned songwriter was John Newton.

Along with his hymn writing, he also became a powerful pulpiteer. For nearly fifty years, he filled pulpits and churches with the story of the Savor who meets you and me in the storm. (From In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)

APPLICATION Take your troubles you face today--disease, alcohol, kids in trouble, cash flow--and wrap them in a prayer: "Lord, have mercy, and teach me to see your way through the storm."

EXPLORATION God hears Us-- Psalm 18:6; Isaiah 41:10; Hebrews 13:6

The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus; Max Lucado General Editor, New Century version, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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