PADDOCK         Typhoon, n. a violent cyclonic storm, especially one in the China Sea and adjacent regions; hurricane.

         Paddock, n. heavy gauge steel bars anchored in the deck and used to secure aircraft with chains.

         My first time at sea was onboard the USS Forrestal CVA-59, and when we left Norfolk, Virginia, the seas were calm as glass. Not long after, I became seasick and spent the next two weeks in sick bay being fed intravenously. For awhile I seriously hoped I would die, but eventually I began to acquire my sea legs.

         Since then I have been through some rough seas including sailing around the Horn three times, but after those first couple of weeks I never really got seasick again. Fortunately, I learned to look out at the horizon rather than to focus on the heavy seas and to visit the galley for some saltine crackers at the first sign of any queasiness.

         Without a doubt, the most brutal seas I went through were while onboard the
USS Intrepid CVS-11. It was on a Westpac cruise in 1968, and we were somewhere in the Pacific, “running from a typhoon.” Sometime in the middle of the night my friend Benny Baker and I were awakened and told to get up to the bridge to stand a watch. This seemed strange because I don’t think either of us had ever been up there before that night.

         When we got there we were given life jackets and earphones so we would be able to communicate with each other and the bridge. Our task was to make one lap around the flight deck and check all the aircraft and their tie down chains. It was rightly estimated that this would take us about four hours to complete. Next they tied us together with a rope and because Baker outweighed me by about 20 pounds, I asked to have a slipknot on my end, but Baker didn’t see the humor.

         The ship’s captain then came over to remind us that if we were to go overboard they would not be able to stop or turn the ship around in that storm. He then thanked us for volunteering and wished us good luck. Baker was his usual quiet self and I was uncharacteristically silent as we went out to stand our watch.

carrier paddock         That was a long time ago, but I can remember parts of that night very clearly. I know that it was really exhausting, and we could only move one man at a time and then hold on to a tire strut until the other guy caught up. We had to keep low and sometimes even crawl, while holding on to the paddocks, to keep from being blown away. I can’t speak for Baker, but for some reason I was never really afraid. I remember stopping to rest every now and then and just being in awe of that sea. It may seem strange to those who have never been to sea but, even in the midst of a storm, watching and listening to the sounds of the ocean can be very calming.

         Although it is very satisfying now to be able to recall such an incredible sight, at the time I was really glad when it was over. Sometime later, we learned who had volunteered us for the job. Why he did that was because…well, that’s another sea story!

         Whenever I remember the night the ocean roared as Baker and I stood our watch, it reminds me that someone didn’t think I was so good. Someone would have liked to have seen me in the belly of a shark. And I wondered, was I really so bad? I had always thought of myself as a good person in comparison to others, but would that be good enough for God? I found it reassuring knowing that I was not as bad as many of the characters who lived in the part of Brooklyn I grew up in. And even if I didn’t live like I knew I should, surely I was better than those guys from the Bronx!

         I reasoned that if there is no God then it wouldn’t matter what I have done because there would not be a heaven to enter or be turned away from. But, if there is a God, then my opinion as to whether I was good or not would have no place in his court. I decided that I needed to know for certain if there is a God and if so, how he would judge my life. Finding God is easy to all who truly seek to find him because the proof is all around us.

         “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Psalm 19:1

         “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7: 7-8

The Holy Bible         There are other books besides the Bible that claim to be the word of God, but only the Bible proves itself to be true. Even though it was written by about 40 authors over a time span of at least 1,500 years, all the pieces fit together perfectly. From Genesis to Revelation, from first book to last, the amazing unity of the Bible proves itself to be a supernatural work. Nothing like it has ever been or could ever be accomplished by men alone.

         The Old Testament contains over 2,000 prophesies that have already been fulfilled. If you have not read our letter “Book of Books”   I hope you will. It gives ample evidence that the Bible is truly the word of God. But if you cannot accept that God has revealed himself to his creation through the Bible, then frankly there is no point in reading any further because what I will offer is from those pages.

         “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3: 16

         “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2: 8-9

         “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’  Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6: 28-29

         “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
1 John 5: 10-12

         “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20: 15

         These and many other scriptures helped me to see that no one can earn their way to heaven. They also showed me the only way to be sure that I would have eternal life was to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This I did and although I am still only a sinful man, I have been changed. Some will say, “Not enough,” and they’ll get no argument from me. But I know what I would be like without him, and that’s a thought that both scares and humbles me.

         God has made it very clear that salvation is through Jesus alone. To try to add ones own good works is to say that the sacrifice God made for you is inadequate. Everything I have written to this point has been fact, but now I will offer an opinion. I believe the sin that offends God the most is pride. It was pride that made Satan want to be like God. It was pride that got us into this mess, because Adam wanted to be like God. And I believe it is pride that keeps people from admitting they are sinners in need of a savior.

         “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Mark 10: 15

         We hope that if you have not already accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior that you will. What better Christmas present could you receive than the assurance of knowing you will live forever?

All scripture from the New International Version (NIV) 1984 edition.




                           Bob Rani                                                                                      Mike Rani

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