The Great Escape (Dec 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Scott Simpson

There once was a Craftsman who fashioned a fine ship. It was the largest and most magnificent ship ever built. And he stood back and said, “It is good! It is very good!”

But this Craftsman was no ordinary carpenter; he was able not only to craft the ship, but also to craft all of the crew and every small thing that would be needed for a voyage of the sort that he had envisioned. He wanted a crew that would care for the ship and the voyage as he did, and so he crafted souls to people the ship—along with himself, for he of course intended to make this most wonderful voyage as well.

Why else would he have crafted it?

When he had shaped a crew and all the provisions and equipage needed for the trip, he once again stepped back and took a good look—now at not only a ship, but a crew and provisions aplenty. He said, “This is good! This is very good!”

And he gave them their tasks, each one his or her own. The tasks he’d perfectly suited them for. And they were all of the same mind, set upon working together for the good of crew and ship and voyage. And the Craftsman was there with them the day they set out. That day the sails filled, the spray came over the bow the sun was bright, and everyone was about his or her calling. It was like a song or a symphony in which every part was perfectly in tune with all the rest, and with the wind, and with the sea itself, and it was, indeed, very good.

But there came a time when a crew member decided he wouldn’t take up his task. He was one of the cooks, and he chose one meal simply to stay in his bunk and let the others carry the slack. It wasn’t long before resentment spread through the crew. Someone didn’t get her proper portion at a meal, and so she let her cleaning tasks slide which, in turn threw off the crew taking care of the rigging, they had to take time to haul trash before setting to work, and so on and so forth until almost no crew members were operating at the tasks they were suited to anymore. They were each arguing with each about who was to do what and who was being cheated by whom.

No one trimmed the sails, no one heeded the course of the ship, everyone fended for themselves and the only skills that were practiced and valued were the skills of argument and manipulation. Those who best argued and manipulated others into working for them, sat in an uneasy comfort while those below groused and murmured. No one felt fulfilled. They had all forgotten their vocations. They had all forgotten their journey’s purpose, and even that they were on a journey. They just floated about aimlessly.

The Craftsman was there still, though they had all forgotten him. In fact, they no longer heard his voice or saw him as he walked the decks because their heads were always down. He was like a ghost on his own ship. He said, “This ship, this crew… it is all good, but the journey is lost because they no longer know it or know themselves.”

There began a rumor around this time among the people of the ship that their ship was actually sinking, that one day they would all wake up and find themselves under water. So there began a great contest, the contest of the life-rafts.

There were teams of individuals that bound themselves together to vie for rights to a life-raft. Everyone knew that not everyone could be saved, and so only the best and the most worthy would be allowed to board the life-rafts and escape when the ship went down. Every person on the ship was focused upon a singular goal: How do I secure my place in the Great Escape? And some believed it was every man or woman for himself or herself, and others worked to make alliances because they believed their team would secure them safe passage on a life-raft.

The Craftsman was concerned. He knew the ship was good. He knew the crew was good. But he knew also that the ship was made for the people and the people for the ship and that the marvelous journey he set about launching could and would be completed if only each and every person could pull together for the sake of the whole.

But they were each thinking only of escape. They were each thinking only of abandoning ship, either alone or with their team, it made no difference. He’d perfectly fitted all the pieces, but until the pieces knew their part, the whole was lost.

And so the Craftsman clothed himself as a crewman. He became one of them to remind them, to show them who they were and that they belonged to each other and to the ship.

He began as a lowly worker, cleaning decks he hadn’t dirtied. He wandered into the kitchen and prepared meals for people who’d not asked him to, but who were nonetheless hungry. He went cabin to cabin helping the old and the feeble, binding up wounds and healing. The ship’s doctor was now only working for those at the top, those who had risen above, but the craftsman, as the lowly crewman, fed and clothed and care for and healed, beginning at the bottom.

He did this to show them that whatever they did for the least, they did for the good of all, for the good of the journey, for the good even of the wind and the sea.

Good is good.

Of course, the people took notice. Some said he was a god. Some said he was a devil. Some said he was salvation. Some said he was destruction. Many teams commandeered his ways and even his name, putting them into operation among themselves. They served each other and fed each other and praised each other… but still, they did this over and against all the other teams, they alone would be the ones to make the Great Escape. They still could not see that the ship and the whole of the craftsman’s crew had places and tasks and indeed a song to make for the sake of the whole. In their anticipation of escape, some individuals and even some teams had become almost as enthusiastic about watching the ship and the others sink into the sea as they were about launching their own life raft. The idea of escape had rendered them incapable of ever appreciating anything about the craftsman’s good ship and its good crew. They were no longer anything like the Craftsman.

Many mistakenly believed this lowly crewman’s way was in service to escape, not in service to a ship and its crew that were indeed good and need not sink if only all the parts could be, once and for all, set right. They didn’t understand the love demonstrated in the crewman’s actions. The wise Craftsman knew that the only way things might possibly be set right, would be for him to somehow demonstrate that his love is the kind that does not settle for escape in the face of such a good ship and a fine crew that only has yet to awaken to itself and its purpose. Escape cuts its losses, counts its plan and its children a failure and abandons ship to make all new things. But love, love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

The Craftsman didn’t want to make all new things, because love, instead, makes all things new.

Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (CEB)

categoria commentoNo Comments dataDecember 4th, 2013
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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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