This summer, my family and I made the ritual visit to one of my favorite places in the East Coast: Annapolis, Maryland. We have been visiting Historic Annapolis and the Naval Academy for the last ten years. My husband graduated the Naval Academy in 2001 and he loves serving as tour guide and sharing with us all about the history of the academy.
We drove to Annapolis on an overcast day with chance of rain later in the afternoon, but we thought the rain would only last a little while. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, the rain began pouring. We rushed towards the Rotunda and spent our time in there walking around Memorial Hall, an area dedicating to honoring the lives of naval war heroes. Once the rain stopped, we took a chance to stroll around the academy grounds. A couple, who had just gotten married, were having their pictures taken in the beautiful gazebo immediately across the Naval Academy Chapel. As we walked by and admired the bride and the groom rain began to pour again. This time we decided to take shelter in the nearest building open to the public, which happened to be the Naval Academy Chapel.
This is our sixth time visiting Historic Annapolis together and up to now, I’ve never had the opportunity to go inside this chapel. What a perfect time to discover what’s inside!
As we entered the church, we were welcomed by the relaxing music coming from a young man playing his guitar while singing old country Christian songs; songs I had never heard before yet made me feel right at home.
By now, it was pouring outside. Once I realized we were going to be there for a while I made myself comfortable and tried to make the best of the situation. I stood there listening to the singer who seemed to be practicing for Sunday worship. All of the sudden, I looked to my left and noticed a tall window adorned with the striking image of an angel.
As I looked around the chapel, I noticed the entire building was decorated with stained-glass windows depicting images of well-known stories from the Bible. The two images that caught my attention were those of Archangel Gabriel, on the left side of the nave, and Archangel Michael, to the right. At the far end of the chapel, behind the altar, was an image of Jesus Christ also made out of stained-glass.
As I walked around the chapel, another window caught my attention. It read, “Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of Men” (Saint Mark 1:17). I could not stop looking at the image depicted above this inscription; of Jesus standing in a teaching position, speaking to His disciples while their nets were full of freshly-caught fish. I was moved by this image because it reminded me of a promise God gave me.
I took many pictures as I walked around, admiring these pieces of art while reflecting on the importance of each and every one of the stories they represented. I love reading these stories in the Bible and imagining what the people in the stories actually looked like. Normally, I seldom watch movies about the Bible or look at illustrated Bible stories. I feel such interpretations change the perception of the viewer, skewing the way a person thinks about each Biblical story to match the views of the painter or the director. However, I was able to appreciate these scriptures and images as they related to the line of work of the life of a sailor.
As a former sailor myself, working out at sea and understanding concepts related to the Navy, I was mesmerized with how particularly the scriptures on these windows were chosen as they clearly drew connections with the Bible and the sea as well as to man’s relationship with God.
“What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him” (Saint Matthew 8:27) was another inscription and image that caught my attention. The story of Jesus Calms the Storm reminded me of the rain that was pouring outside at that moment. It also brought to mind how many times I encountered storms while being out to sea while stationed onboard a ship. I imagined how it must’ve been to be in the presence of Jesus while He calmed the storm in front of His disciples.
“They that go down to the sea in ships these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep” (Psalm 107:23-24). Another Scripture that spoke to me.
It was fascinating to see how all of these stories on the windows related to the sea and man, fighting storms, the elements of nature, how many of the stories of the Bible have to do with the sea and water…God continues to amaze me! How much more I have yet to learn from God!
Even though the rain was an unexpected part of our family trip to Annapolis, God had other plans for us. The rain caused us to stop in an unexpected place where I was reminded of and taught new things about the wonders of God. It is always in the least expected places where you’ll find God revealing Himself and His wonders.