…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Of oil, islands, and pilots

By Eric Chaffey


My car is burning through oil faster than five foolish virgins.Good old Spot has close to 111000 miles on him and when I called the service technician to ask what might be causing him to go through so much oil, the answer wasn’t a good one. They indicated that something called the rings were either bad or no longer there and that they would need to take apart the engine to determine the problem which is a very expensive proposition.

As I was thinking about Spot and his dilemma, I had the thought come to mind that sometimes Spot’s particular problem of the moment is a metaphor for my own problem. I burn through spiritual oil quite quickly and then when I really need it I haven’t kept enough of a steady supply of it going.

The way to replenish the dwindling supply of spiritual oil, is one level relatively straight forward. As a matter of fact, a former stake president of mine had four simple things we could do to keep oil at the ready or draw closer to Christ. Daily prayer, daily scripture study, daily acts of service, and daily temple worthiness. Those four things help to be sure. During the last two years I was in school I added a fifth one which was daily hymn meditation. As part of my daily organ practice, I would start with a hymn and focus on the text as I played it. This helped not only as a warm up, but also helped keep my spiritual oil in good supply. But sometimes replenishing the spiritual oil requires something more.

Close friends are a vital part of keeping the spirit alive. The great poet and preacher John Donne wrote at one time, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

We all need each other and sometimes the need for friendship and association with others can seem overwhelming. I have days when I long for being in the company of someone that I can be completely honest with and share whats in my mind and heart even if it’s not pretty. I want a friend who can be there to put an arm around my shoulder and make me feel less alone and anxious when it feels like my life would make a great (or very bad) made for TV movie. Sometimes someone backing away from you at the same time telling you that they love you just doesn’t quite fit the bill. Nor does the, “Hi Brother Chaffey, how are you? Oh, that’s good…”

So what do we do when we’re feeling lost and alone and it seems like the light is about to go out? Turn to the pilot. Thanks be to our loving Father in Heaven who sent his Beloved Son into the world to be not only our Savior,  but our friend and guide. A favorite hymn of mine is “Jesus, Savior Pilot Me.” I particularly like the last verse which says,

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roll,
‘twixt me and the peaceful rest.
Then while leaning on thy breast,
May I hear thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

That beloved Savior, Redeemer, friend and pilot indeed loves us and can fill the vessel with oil and guide us safely to our home. No matter what pain, fear, and loneliness we feel, the Savior is there to comfort and bless us. Indeed by looking to him we not only keep the oil going, we get the assurance and comfort as we hear him say, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.” Jesus Savior Pilot Me

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4 Responses to “Of oil, islands, and pilots”

  1. Arthur said:

    I like the things you do to refill your oil can.
    I serve as the organist for my ward and I have learned to meditate while playing, too. It’s so easy to get caught up in only doing the notes correctly. Practicing the notes helps me connect to the feeling of the music but that’s means I’m choosing to experience only half the hymn. When I can feel the Spirit through both the text AND the music of a good hymn, it’s comparable to experiencing the joys of a good marriage, one “made in Heaven.”
    I appreciate the reminder to remember.


  2. Eric said:

    Thanks Art,

    I appreciate your taking the time to write and express your thoughts. I’m glad to know you.

  3. Rex Goode said:

    Beautiful thoughts and beautiful music, Eric! I don’t plan the organ, but I’ve been sacrament meeting music conductor for most of my adult life in every ward I’ve lived in. Often, it’s a hymn that gets stuck in my head when music gets in there. My favorite part of this hymn is the same as you quoted. I look forward to that day.

  4. Eric said:

    Thanks Rex, I hope you had a wonderful trip.

    Love ya,


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