I mentioned a few days ago that when I served on the USS WALLER (DD-466) out of Norfolk, Virginia back in 1966, I was part of the special sea and anchor detail. Whenever the ship pulled into port or pulled out of port 28 setting sailI would hustle to the forecastle and help handle all the lines. I can remember the day in October 1966 we heard over the 1MC (announcement system) to “set the special sea and anchor detail!” We weren’t coming into port, we were leaving our homeport at the D&S(Destroyer and Submarine) piers in Norfolk to depart for six months to the Mediterranean with stops in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. We were all excited. It was a great adventure. I was 19 years old and hadn’t been much of anywhere. It was a journey of a lifetime. Before Star Trek ever made it to television, I felt like I was going “where no man has gone before.” Well, at least where I’ve never been before. The excitement was visible everywhere on that ship!

In Philippians 1:23, Paul says, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” He looks forward to going home to be with the Lord. But, of course, that’s not his call. He’ll have to wait for God’s timing. As Richison observes in his commentary (and a word study proves true), “The word ‘depart’ is used as a nautical term—a loosing of the anchor prior to setting sail. A term with the same root is used in II Timothy 4:6, ‘…the time of my departure is at hand’ (his death was immanent).” Paul was anxiously waiting for God to announce, “Set the special sea and anchor detail!” Regarding this Greek word, Barclay says, “It is the word for loosening the mooring ropes, pulling up the anchors and setting sail. Death is a setting sail, a departure on that voyage which leads to the everlasting haven and to God.”

Death for the Christian is no bleak, black, terminus of existence; it is a separation from the physical body and an entrance into fellowship with Jesus Christ. To be absent from the body for the believer is “to be present with the Lord,” not present with the worms in the grave! It is better because the soul departs the body at death and goes into the presence of the Lord. Do you look upon death with dread or as a “departure” from planet earth into the presence of the Lord Jesus? It truly is a Star Trek experience. We’re all going to go where all Christians have gone before. While on his deathbed, D. L. Moody cried out: “This is my Coronation Day. Don’t try to call me back.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, when facing death, implored: “Can this be death? Why, it is better than living!” Many times Billy Graham has declared: “For the Christian, the grave is not the end; nor is death a calamity, for he has a glorious hope—the hope of Heaven.”