• Today's Daily Devotion
Powder in the Scuttle
The destroyer USS Heermann churned ahead at maximum speed toward the Japanese cruiser formation. Incoming shells spouted huge geysers in a rainbow of colors all around the ...

Powder in the Scuttle

The destroyer USS Heermann churned ahead at maximum speed toward the Japanese cruiser formation. Incoming shells spouted huge geysers in a rainbow of colors all around the little ship. Red, yellow, and green dye marked the rounds from different enemy guns.

The Heermann was trying desperately to screen the wounded and badly listing escort carrier, Gambier Bay, by laying smoke and disrupting the enemy advance. She had only her 5inch guns to bear on the larger Japanese ships closing in. The Heermann ’s five mounts kept up a steady cadence as each gun crew worked feverishly through the loading cycle over and over again. Fifty-four-pound projectiles came up the shell hoists to be fused and hand-loaded into the breeches. Twenty-eight-pound powder bags were pushed up through scuttles for loading behind the projectiles. The smell of cordite and human sweat became overpowering, especially for the men below decks in the confined spaces of the handling rooms. One sailor described the experience:

Round after round I take from Sacco, placing it in the scuttle. As the previous round is removed, I push up a new one and secure it in its seat. Forty, fifty rounds, then the violent action of the ship, a brief pause. Just enough time to bring up more shells from the lower handling room. Many times more, rapid fire, no time for thought. Keep a powder charge in the scuttle. No talk, only Sacco’s orders to keep the lower hoist moving. The human machine works flawlessly. We still know nothing of the happenings around us. No feelings, no interruptions, just keep a powder in the scuttle.

As happens so often in combat, we see men working together to do a job with no idea of the bigger picture around them. They had to get their part done while having faith that others would do theirs and that the overall battle would be fought wisely. This remains a powerful metaphor for our lives in Christ. We try to use our gifts conscientiously in his service while resting in the confidence that he is in control of the outcome.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

—Isaiah 40:31


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