Nailing our Colours to the Mast.

by | Dec 7, 2009

Colours can define us, divide us or decide us. I grew up in a time and a nation that was defined by colours. Your colour determined your options, your status and your destiny. I also had a father who at times would wax on lyrical about Colours. Not skin colour or pigmentation but the Colours. To fully appreciate what he was speaking of you need to understand that my father was an old soldier and the last of the great Victorians, a man who was in love with an England that no longer existed, if it ever existed at all, the heroic England that from her small soggy island had once dominated the world map with Red. When he spoke of colours, it was THE colours that moved him, England’s colours or the regimental colours.

He would regale me as a child with stories, and more often than not poetry, of gallant heroes who rallied to the colours and with deeds of desperate heroism and would save the day. It is little wonder then that I have to this day a love of naval stories and in many of these tales you get insight into idioms from a bygone era when navies determined the destinies of nations.

Two of these are “Nailing the colours to the Mast” and “Showing your true Colours”. In naval warfare of the Napoleonic era during a battle if a captain wished to capitulate or surrender he would “strike his colours” or lower the flag of his navy or his vessel signaling his defeat. Sometimes however a determined captain would take hammer and nails and permanently fasten his colours to the mast in full view of his crew and the enemy as a sign that he would never surrender and would rather fight to the death. Dramatic stuff!

The other idiom referred to a practice of deceiving your enemy by flying false colours, perhaps of a friendly or neutral nation, in order to get close enough to engage him and then at the last moment of hauling up the vessels true colours for the battle.

We too fly a set of colours as we fight the battles of our lives and there is nothing like a little gunfire and smoke to make a man’s true colours surface. Those colours may define us, determine our destiny, and limit our options. I was thinking about this late last week as we returned from a frightening scan in Port Elizabeth where the obstetrician had given us bad news and some unpleasant statistics about the unborn child that is in Debbie’s womb. As I waited, praying I sensed God saying to me “Hold the course Son, hold the course” That got me thinking in Naval terms, and on reflection I decided that it was time to nail my colours to the mast.

What are those colours? That God is Good! He is a good God, he is completely good, he is good all the time and he is good to me. I am nailing those colours to the mast, no matter what! It seems to me that Satan’s primary aim is to get us to capitulate from this simple truth, that every temptation to step away from faith in God and his providence is not just a call to disbelieve in his existence but to doubt the nature of his existence. As it says in Hebrews 11:6
“without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
In Eden Satan never challenged God’s existence, indeed he implicitly affirmed it, he merely questioned his motives and his goodness by implying that God was denying man something good. He questioned the nature of that existence, he questioned God’s goodness. The first step away from faith is stepping away from our belef in God’s goodness. Eve struck her colours when she believed that God was less than good.

Many believers today are afloat under a false set of colours, they fly the colours affirming the goodness of God but once confronted with Satanic warfare of fear, intimidation and things we do not understand we are quick to strike our colours and to fly colours of a theology that questions God’s goodness or his motives. As a result our prayers are often half hearted and double minded, and consequently powerless. The time has come for a generation who will nail their colours to the mast and say “God is Good!”

Does this mean that we will never have questions again? Of course not, but if we will allow his self revelation to be greater than our questions we will find the strength to face the broadsides of life and not surrender.

How has he revealed his Colours? 2000 years ago, he literally nailed them to the mast when the red banner of the love of God flowed from the outstretched arms of Jesus giving the lie to the enemy’s contention that God would hold anything good back from our lives. As Paul wrote in his blog 😉 to the Romans

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? “

In the cross we see the goodness and love of God. Jesus, so in love with you and I, that he took on himself the sorrows, sins and sicknesses of lost and alienated humanity so that we could once again have access to all that He is and the abundance of his heavenly kingdom. The ultimate act of kindness and goodness!

He nailed his colours to the mast for you, have we nailed our colours to the mast for Him?

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