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Do you want a Pilot?

Watchkeeper's picture

Pilot boat

One of the blessings of living in Blyth is to watch the shipping movements in and out of the port. Here's a picture of the pilot boat Cambois on her way out to meet an incoming vessel. You can see the full-size picture in our Blyth image gallery - look for the word "Pilot" on the side of the wheelhouse.

Of course, mention "pilot" and people nowadays automatically think of aeroplanes but that is a recent use of the word.

  The story is told of a boy who came back from Sunday School proudly brandishing a drawing. He told his mother "Today we learned about the Flight into Egypt, and here's my picture". His mother was astonished to see a picture of an aeroplane. "What's this?" she asked. "It's an aeroplane," the boy said disdainfully. "That's Mary, that's Joseph, that's baby Jesus and that's Pontius the pilot". Originally, a pilot was a man who knew a particular harbour and its approaches like the back of his hand, in fair weather or foul. An approaching ship, full of strangers from a strange land, would signal for a pilot to come on board by flying the flag that represents the letter G.

HThe pilot would put to sea in the pilot vessel and transfer to the incoming ship. Once on board, the ship would fly the letter H flag, meaning "I have a pilot on board". The pilot would then "take the con" i.e. he would be in sole control of guiding the ship safely into harbour.

Very many years ago, as a lad in Sunday School, we would sing a chorus with these words:

Do you want a Pilot? Signal then to Jesus!
Do you want a Pilot? Bid Him come aboard.
For He will safely guide across the ocean wide
Until at last you reach the heavenly harbour.

The words are true and still relevant. Jesus still issues the same invitation that He has always done: "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest". He will be your Pilot through the seas of life, and safely bring you home. But He must have complete control.

Which flag are you flying? H - "I have a pilot on board"? G - "I require a pilot"? Or are you not flying a flag at all?


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story | by Dr. Radut