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And when the time was fully come… 

There is an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth…a time to hold on and another to let go.  Ecclesiastes 3

When faced with a setback I find that the challenge is not only how to respond but when –  timing is so important. This dilemma reminds me of the ‘Alba’ 

On a stormy night in January 1937 the M V Alba an Italian vessel was shipping a cargo of welsh coal from Barry to Italy.

As the vessel approached the Scilly isles the weather deteriorated so the captain sought shelter from the storm in St Ives Bay. Confusing his position he drove the vessel upon the rocks of Porthmeor beach and the ship stuck fast.

The St Ives lifeboat was launched and took off all the 23 crew but on leaving the stricken vessel was capsized by the heavy norwesterly gale – and with her engine out of action it too was driven onto the rocks.

Rescuers from the beach waded into the sea using searchlights, car headlights and torches saving most of the crew, but 5 men from the wreck drowned.

alba wreck 1939

The scene in Jan 1937

This was unfortunate – 

However the tragedy was that if the Alba crew had remained on their ship and waited for the tide to go out they could have walked up the beach to safety.

The wreck remained on the rocks providing the townspeople with coal for the next ten years until it was broken up for scrap. Today at low tide one can still see the ship’s boilers marooned in the sand.


The boilers from the Alba today 

For some years I kept this photo of the vessel’s boilers on my desk to remind me of the importance of timing – its not always how to respond to a problem – it’s when.

God is the master of time and He has bubbled us in it so we don’t need to get overwhelmed and our lives can be sequenced. His timing is always perfect - we need to learn the difficult discipline of pacing ourselves with Him.

The Psalmist said ‘Be still and know that I am God’ Ps 118 v 24. To which the victorian novelist Charles Kingsley responded - unless you are still how will you know that He is God!


Robert Lucas, 27/01/2021