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The Depths of the Sea

by Tim O'Hearn

When I was in the U. S. Navy I was assigned as personnel office supervisor on a ship that had been newly commissioned. That meant that my office mates were the first to permanently use the personnel office onboard. Shortly after I checked on board, we began our first deployment to the Western Pacific. After we got underway, we noticed some things about the office that just were not going to work for us. We had an extra desk, and the filing cabinets were down the middle of the room. I got permission from out Personnel Officer to make some modifications. Since everything on a ship is fastened down in case of rough weather, that meant we had to cut one desk off the deck and move it. Then we had to cut the filing cabinets free, move them where the desk had been, and have the welders secure them to the deck. That meant we had a desk floating free to get rid of. That posed a problem. The office was one deck below the main deck (the one open to the ocean). The passageway outside the office was narrow. The desk was big. We tried for over an hour to figure out how to maneuver the desk out the door, turn it, and take it up the stairs (ladder in Navy-speak). Nothing doing. It appeared that when they were building the ship they lowered the furniture in and secured it before putting in the deck above. What to do? One of my workers came up with the idea of cutting the desk in half; we weren’t going to use it anyway. He went to one of the shops and got a power metal saw, and we cut the thing down the middle. That was just enough to get it out the door and up the ladder. That night, two of my Personnelmen carried each half up to the deck and back to the stern. They notified the watch on deck what they were doing so he wouldn’t call “man overboard.” Then they threw each half of the desk over the side. So somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, between San Diego and Honolulu, there are two halves of a big metal desk sitting at the bottom of the ocean. They are probably the basis for a coral reef by now.

Whenever I read Micah 7:18-19 I think of this incident. God is speaking to Israel through the prophet, but could be speaking to us all.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

I think of that desk and what a splash it must have made going into the water. Then I think of my sins, and realize how great they are. Before God, even one sin is like that desk. All my sins must be huge to him. And yet, “thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

That is what Jesus did by dying on the tree. All of my sins have been made to disappear into the deep.

Only about six people actually remember the incident with the desk. We are the ones who cut it up and threw it overboard, plus the young sailor on the watch that evening. As far as we are concerned, that desk is gone. We never saw it again, and don’t expect to. God doesn’t even remember throwing our sins into the sea. Unfortunately, we tend to remember, and sometimes to remind him. Our sins, though, should be like that desk. Out of sight forever, at the bottom of the sea.