I’m not often up at sunrise. This time was worth it. Our ship glided through the still water of the Mediterranean Sea, and a layer of dust and cloud gradually lifted clear of the water. Then the Rock came into view.
The cloud began to dance and twist round the Rock. In sharp silhouette, no details were visible: the light swelled as the sun clambered up the sharp slopes of the massif of Gibraltar. Strength and solidity were conveyed in the mysterious light. I used a very long telephoto lens to isolate the Rock and cloud and accentuate the cloud dance.
As we came closer to shore, the light grew broader. The misty air still hid the details, and the ship was making very slow progress. That changed suddenly- a fast motor launch sped over the sea, bringing the Pilot to guide our 115,000 ton cruise ship into safe mooring.
The pilot knows the local channels intimately, and takes control of the ship. It must be both a relief and a challenge for the ship’s Captain to hand over control!
Once safely moored, we were allowed ashore. Advance booking of tickets for the cable car made sure we could ascend fairly quickly to the Rock summit.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a refuge and a fortress for centuries. It “belongs” to Britain, and the local people we spoke to were very proud of being British, and wanted to stay British.
Other residents didn’t seem to care too much as long as they could make a living by fleecing the tourists. I’m not being rude about the Gibraltarians – they were lovely! – but there is a famously mischievous colony of Barbary apes who live on the Rock and see visitors as fair game for amusement and food.
We had to keep a close eye and firm grip on all our bags and belongings; opportunistic apes are quick to “explore” and try to steal bags, hats, and just about anything not nailed down.
There is more to the Rock of Gibraltar than you might realise at first glance. It is in a very strategic location, covering the entrance of the Mediterranean. Armies and navies have fought over and besieged the Rock. Inside the Rock are over 30 miles of tunnels and many defences. It is almost invulnerable to attack. Standing there gives a feeling of safety and security, and an appreciation of history. The Battle of Trafalgar was fought quite close to the Rock; in the two World Wars, Gibraltar stood as a bastion of freedom and hope.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of solid rock finds expression in the Bible as a picture of faith, trust, and obedience. Try reading these verses and allow them to challenge and inspire you. The best place to stand is on the Rock.
Psalm 62:6-9 (Message)
He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbour God. So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. Man as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage. Put them together, they’re nothing; two times nothing is nothing.
Matthew 7:24-27 (Message)
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit- but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”