“All Hands on Deck” – A Poem on Despair and Redemption

all hands on deck
jesus calms the waters

Image: “Stilling the Storm” by Ted Henninger.

Jonathan’s note: Although I am a man of faith, I have the utmost respect for those who do not share my beliefs. I share this deeply personal poem, which I wrote years ago in a time of turmoil, in the hope that it will bring spiritual relief to those looking for such. 

“All Hands on Deck”

By Jonathan Decker

The world’s a storming, tumultuous sea
With multitudes drowning, struggling, lost
So the Captain’s crew fights valiantly
To bring all aboard no matter what the cost

His ship provides a place to rest
Clean warm clothes, a nice hot meal
A place one can become one’s best
A place where one’s wounds fully heal

“All hands on deck!” echoes the command
Tired sailors comply without a groan
For one of the Captain’s few demands
Is that none be left to drown alone

One of their own has lost his grip
And fallen into the murky deep
He desperately cries out for the ship
And the Captain begins to weep

He stops the ship, but does not turn it round …

“Captain, shall we not turn back?
Our friend is out there in the black!
Instead of commanding, now you weep
While a sailor sinks in the deep!”

Looking in the Captain’s eyes
This crewman sees his own mistake
For he should never have surmised
His leader could leave any in the wake

“He knows to swim, I’ve taught him well
Shine forth the lights and ring the bell
Make sure he knows right where we are
Drop the anchor so we won’t go far

“Our course is set, our path is strait
For that one we will simply wait.
I’ll not risk any diving in
And drowning in the waves of sin

“Throw him a line, show that you care
That swimming back, he not despair
Give him a pull, give him a cheer
Let him know we are still here

“And we want him back on board …

“I bought this boat, I paid the price
Believe me, ’twas no small sacrifice
To help you all get back to Land
So another of my few demands

Is that each do his own part …”

The desperate sailor, tossed by the sea
Midst crashing waves and churning foam
Grabs hold the lifeline, swims desperately
Towards the ship that’ll bring him Home

Although his crewmates cheer his swim
And he fights valiantly to stay afloat
It’s the Captain’s hand that brings him in
And pulls him safely aboard the boat.

“Lord, before you’ve calmed the storming sea
I wondered why you would not for me
Instead I swam and fought and cried
I nearly drowned, I nearly died

“But then I saw you’d stopped the ship
You’d not abandon me, though I’d slipped
And when you didn’t turn back, I knew
That I couldn’t leave it solely up to you

“Twas’ your blood, your tears and sweat
That obtained this vessel and cleared my debt
Your laws keep me safe and afloat
Your grace grants me passage on the boat

“Your ship would carry me back to Land
But you wanted me to understand
That falling off, one pays a price
And now I surely must think twice

When tempted to walk the edge again …”

Safely aboard, though cold and wet
His friends help him get warm and dry
And he scarcely gets a moment’s rest
Before happily answering the Captain’s cry:

“All hands on deck!

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