O Captain! My Captain!

Limping ashore after decades at sea, he was greeted by taunt …

“You don’t have much to show for all those years do you?”

“No, not much,” said the old salt who had spent years sailing with Sir Francis Drake.  “I’ve been cold, hungry, sick, scared, and shipwrecked. But I am certain of one thing; I have been with the greatest captain who ever sailed the seas.”


Joshua was preparing to lead Israel in their first foray into Canaan. Near Jericho he happened on a man with sword drawn.

“Are you a friend or an enemy?” Joshua asked.

“I am neither. I have come as the commander (captain) of the Lord’s army” (Josh. 5:13 NCV).

In other words, “I’m not here to take sides; I’m here to take charge.”

It was a theophany, an Old Testament glimpse of the pre-incarnate Christ taking command of God’s army as it set out to take possession of the Promised Land.

In the New Testament Jesus is called the captain of our salvation, “bringing many children to glory” (Heb. 2:10).

 Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain! was a tribute to Abraham Lincoln in celebration of the end of the Civil War. The words comfortably adapt to Jesus, our captain; the end of earthly combat, victory achieved …

 O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting …

 The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won …


 You don’t have much to show for all those years of serving Jesus do you Christian?

Yes. Yes I do.

Not that there haven’t been problems and disappointments. I’ve been hurt and heartbroken. Lost loved ones. Experienced many why-me and what-ifs. Been slow to learn and weak in faith. Sinned often. Made senseless mistakes. Seldom gotten it right the first time, and more often than not messed up on the do-overs.

But the Lord has been compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Moved by mercy he has not treated me as my sins deserve. Instead, he has removed my transgressions as far from me as the east is from the west. Moved by grace he has given me what I don’t deserve—salvation.

I have been justified, redeemed, reconciled, and cleansed.

He has adopted me—one of his children being brought to glory.

I have a love letter from him, part of which I read every day. It is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

I have open-door access to him. Nor am I alone when I talk to him—both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are praying and interceding for me. And when I can’t come up with the right words the Spirit translates my silence into words and delivers them to the Father.

I have the fellowship of the saints, dear ones in whom I delight—a family of brothers and sisters that mean the world to me.

And of this I am certain … I have been with the greatest captain who ever sailed the seas. He knows these waters and how to pilot the ship safely to port—bringing many children to glory.

O Captain! My Captain!

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