Every Vessel Matters

It was Thursday evening, the 30th of May, 1940. The coastline of the English channel was littered with small boats … “fishing smacks … drifters … excursion boats … glittering white yachts… mud-spattered hoppers… open motor launches… tugs towing ship’s lifeboats.” Businessmen with hobby vessels were hurrying about on deck, trying to figure out how to sail on the open sea. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was deserted, the tables bare, and every ship in the yard gone.

Although technically a secret, news of the sudden evacuation of 400,000 allied troops from the beaches in Flanders had spread around England’s shipping community quickly. “Every vessel is needed,” the Ministry of Shipping had said, and they brought literally everything. By the end of June 4, after four days of harrowing encounters with the Luftwaffe, German artillery, the chaos of 400,000 men trying to board at once, and absolutely no navigational knowledge on the part of the small boat owners, the Allied army landed safely on English shore. Called the Miracle of Dunkirk, the event is celebrated as an act of God’s amazing intervention — and the heroism of the ordinary Englishman and his private yacht.

In this battle called the Christian life, every vessel matters. Nor are there ranks in the Christian life. If a bank teller can rescue a handful of soldiers in his fishing smack, he’s no less valuable than the army sergeant rowing next to him. 

But even though that’s a truth we would all assent to in our minds, seeing certain roles as superior has a way of creeping into our thoughts. The funny thing is, what “the really godly” people look like is different in every Christian circle. For some it’s adopting children. Or teaching a Bible study. Or being a pastor. Or having your “Timothy” to disciple. Or (gasp in amazement!) serving as a missionary to an unreached people group. 

All the while, I’ve found it far too easy to strive after any number of these things depending on the Christian circle I find myself in. After all, I want to live wholeheartedly for the Lord, right? So if those around me are telling me that giving your life wholly to the Lord means being a stay-at-home daughter or doing street evangelism, it’s awfully easy to simply pursue that. Done deal. Now I know what it takes to be godly.

The problem is that the Christian life is not that simple precisely because it’s a relationship with an infinite, complex, and yet imminent God. It’s not a formula. And God’s callings do not have rankings. Every service done in love for Christ is considered precious in His sight, be it changing diapers or translating the Bible. 

“A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a great thing. Above all, we must be faithful in the ‘little thing’ of our hidden walk with God.”

-Hudson Taylor

But while every tugboat and military vessel was crucial to the survival of the Allied army, there was still endeavor. No one sat back, took a nap, and assumed since his fishing trawl had already rescued one soldier the job was done. Christ demands everything in His service — because He gives us everything, Himself. No matter the calling, the journey won’t be easy. God will ask us things we would never have dreamed of giving up. But wherever His Spirit leads, that calling matters. Not because others will notice but because He does. And that’s enough.

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