The Last Piece of Wood — A Maritime Parable About Preparation

She Sits in Her Dry Dock, But Not for Long

The man was reaching up over his head in a compartment of the ship. With a tool in one hand and a piece of wood in the other, he carefully placed the piece where it was designed to be mounted. Each screw was tightened as it should be. He leaned back to look at his work and was satisfied that the job was complete. But more was complete than what met his eye.

He climbed the ladders to the open deck. All the bustling workers had left; the power lines that draped the ship were gone; the welding gear was removed; the sound of tools was absent. As he climbed down the last remaining scaffolding, he noticed it was eerily quiet. The bottom of the dry dock was empty. He could smell the fresh paint on the ship’s hull. All extraneous things at the bottom of the drydock had been removed. He glanced at the deck from where he had come. He knew the crew was quietly checking equipment and scouring the ship for loose gear.

The workman slowly turned away from the ship. He thought of the piece of wood he just mounted. It was the last task to be done by the dry dock workers, whose Boss was careful to ensure everything was done correctly. The long process to prepare the ship was over. The purpose of all the work would be revealed on the open sea under the Captain’s command. The dry dock experience would become history.


The next morning, when the mist still hung over the harbor, the Captain would call men to their stations. The machinery in the dry dock, on the Captain’s command, would permit harbor water to fill the dry dock until the ship floated. The Quartermaster would mark the log. The deck crew would be ready to work the lines while the ship’s engines would be started and checked. All hands at stations would report status to the Captain. He alone would run the event; he was ultimately responsible.

He would give commands to the deck crew and engineering to back the ship out of the dry dock. A tug would stand by if needed. Within an hour, the ship would be in open sea to fulfill its original designed purpose.

Every step of preparation will have been worth it.


2 Corinthians 2:9 says, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”. John 15:8 says this is God’s purpose: “bear much fruit.”    But it takes patience out of an honest and good heart (one who draws close to God), according to Luke 8:15      God is both Preparer and Captain of the ship and the voyage it takes.

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