Unexpected Encore

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone."

Psalm 71:9

In 1931, the New York City Fire Department launched the John J. Harvey, the largest and most powerful fire boat ever built. The ship’s career spanned decades and she was a fixture of New York Harbor until 1999 when she was decommissioned, destined for the scrap yard. No shame in that. She had lasted a long time and served her purpose. 

Still for some it was hard to imagine the harbor without this iconic vessel, so a small group of preservationists and retired firefighters bought the boat in 1999 and restored her as a floating museum.

As it turned out, her retirement lasted less than two years.

On September 11, 2001, the friends of the John J. Harvey who had saved her from the scrapyard gathered at the boat instinctually. They cast off her lines, and powered toward lower Manhattan, calling in on the radio that they were ready to help. At first, she was used a ferry carrying people from Battery Park to New Jersey to get away from the smoke and ash. But soon the hydrants at ground zero ran dry, and the John J. Harvey was called back into action, pumping water from the river to douse the flames. For several hours, her pumps were the only source of water available to fight the fire.

Whether it is at the end of a long career, or after our joints aren’t as flexible as the used to be, it could be tempting to believe that God is done with us. But, God has a purpose for us in every season of life. Our job is to remain ready, to listen carefully for God’s call, to look for where the pain of the world might still be met with a gift that only we have to offer.

Prayer: God, I may not be what I used to be, but I am who you made me to be now. Help me find a way to serve you in every season of my life. Amen. 

More Devotionals

Let there be Light

By: Todd Rider

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."

2 Corinthians 4:6

Turn Around

By: Rev. Ron Kurtz

"See what great love God has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

1 John 3:1

Night Sail to Rockland

By: Mark Patrick

"See what great love God has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

1 John 3:1

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