Monday, January 15, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: War, Veterans and Focusing on God

Keep Your Eyes On The Captain

A devotional by Don E. Atkinson

Some years ago, my Dad, a World War II veteran, told me of his voyage across the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific theater of war. He and approximately 500 other soldiers were boarded on a liberty ship troopship (LST, as Dad so often referred to it) and set sail with a convoy of ships for the South Pacific theater.

LST’s were approximately 57 feet wide, 440 feet long and cruised at 11 knots (13 mph). Being designed as cargo ships, the LST’s were not heavily armed. Consequently, they relied primarily upon destroyers and cruisers in the convoy for protection from enemy aircraft, war ships, and submarines. Approximately 225 liberty ships were converted from cargo use to troop transport ships, able to transport 550 troops. President Roosevelt nicknamed these ships “ugly ducklings.”

Warning: Enemy Submarines and Crazy Kamikazes!

Because of their vulnerability, about 200 liberty ships were lost to submarine torpedoes, mines, explosions, Japanese kamikazes, and other aircraft during WWII. Dad noted there was a freight load of fear among his fellow soldiers. Due to their extreme fear, and in some cases also sea sickness, many soldiers could not eat much. When they noticed Dad eating well they asked him how he had such a strong appetite in such dangerous circumstances?

Look to the Captain

Dad told his inquirers that early in his wartime voyage he “looked up” to the bridge and noticed their captain did not appear worried. So, he asked himself, “Because the captain is calm in this situation, why should I worry?” Dad did not suffer from sea sickness and with a greatly reduced fear and anxiety level, ate well on his wartime voyage filled with several potential dangers.

How are you doing in your voyage of life? Are you fearing possible “emergencies” or “trials” or “losses” in your voyage that might be compared to deadly enemy submarines? Like Dad, look up to the captain of your boat, Jesus, the author and completer of your faith. Regarding the “voyage” ahead for each one of us, the author of Hebrews exhorted his readers:

“We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete...So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up." ~Hebrews 12:2a, 3 (The Promise).

Yes, keep your eyes and mind on Jesus. Your boat’s captain is calm, strong, and all-knowing. He will: (1) “lead” you in the various storms of your voyage; (2) help you with “discouragement;” and (3) bring you safely into the harbor. He accomplished this for a WWII soldier years ago and He can do it for you today and in the future!

At the beginning of this New Year, make a resolution to more regularly “look up” and gaze on Jesus, the pioneer and completer of your faith—and the “captain” of your little boat.

Author Bio: 
Don E. Atkinson was born and raised in Lincoln, NE. He attended Southern Nazarene University (formerly Bethany Nazarene College) and Colorado State University securing a Bachelor of Science degree. Later, he completed his Master of Science degree at Texas A&M University. 

He completed a significant amount of coursework towards a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS).

Don has been active in his local church teaching adult Bible studies and preaching as needed. Married in December of 1982, he has three grown children. Currently, Don and his wife reside near Lyons, NE.

Connect with Don via his website ( and his blog (


  1. Thank you for this reminder, cousin Don! What a great article and I did not know that about Uncle Don's time at sea! How wonderful to remember his service for our country and to parallel that with the Captain of our soul! Loved the read and thank you!!!


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