I never thought I would go on a cruise.
But, in a twist of God’s kind providence, my parents and I just got home from a five-day cruise to the Bahamas and, along with a sweet sun-poisoning rash, I brought back a few observations from our time sailing the Atlantic (as well as a few hundred photos).
Warning: I love palm trees. I may or may not have photographic evidence of pretty much every single one we saw. You’ve been warned.
1. Working on a cruise ship should be a consideration for those called to missions.
The Great Commission applies here. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation comprise the crew. Disciples are waiting to be made and Jesus deserves the glory and praise from every person on each ship. To that end, I pray.
I pray that the white harvest of cruise ship crews would be reaped and that disciples who make disciples would come alive in worship of their Creator as they seek to outdo one another in showing honor.
I also pray that God would raise up laborers who would join crews of cruise ships for the purpose of gathering more worshippers for eternity. For those who are already doing that: may God abundantly bless them as they pour out their lives for His sake and the joy of all people.
2. Cruises don’t satisfy.
After only two days on the ship I wrote in my journal,
I am struck in a new way by the blind pursuits of fleeting pleasures and temporary passions. I see people spending an absurd amount of money to fill their vacations with so much alcohol they most likely won’t remember their trip at all. We hear people talking about how they would like to visit Africa and go on a safari or do this or that, and while all those dreams are not bad in and of themselves, I just want to stand on a chair and tell every passenger and crew member that there is so much more to life.
In fact, all that they’re pursuing in alcohol, sex, vacation destinations, and job successes isn’t life at all, only a fading shadow. An imitation that leads to death and destruction. But there is a Way to Life, one that is hard and filled with trials and suffering but produces more joy than all earthly gains combined ever could. And all that joy and life is found in One with scars in His hands and feet and a puncture wound in His side.
Oh that they would have eyes to gaze upon the beauty of the One wounded for them. May it be so, Lord.
3. Getting on a cruise ship is an act of faith.
Each passenger who boarded the ship put their faith in a captain, who drove us while we slept and woke. We didn’t see him, though we once heard his voice over the intercom welcoming us aboard and giving us cruising details, yet we trusted him to get us to and from the Bahamas safely. How much more should we trust the Captain of our souls, the One who, from life’s first cry to final breath, commands my destiny?
Related: On the second day, we boarded a ferry boat that took us to the cruise line’s private island. The captain of the ferry seemingly effortlessly navigated the two-decker boat away from the cruise ship, across the sparklingly blue ocean to the island, through a tight canal, and docked us in a narrow space by another ferry. Then, at the appropriate time, he returned us to the cruise ship. He knew exactly when to turn the ferry to “dock” alongside the ship, mastering a 360-degree turn in a sweeping manner without hitting anything.
I can’t lie to you, at one point it looked (to me) like he may have started the 360 a little too late and, as a consequence, he might have to back up and pivot in order to snuggle the ferry up next to the ship. It looked too close.
But the captain knew what he was doing.
He had probably done that same maneuver hundreds (if not thousands) of times before and I sat amazed by the fluidity of his command of the boat and how capable he was at his job. The lessons in trusting our Captain are obvious. Lord, help me to trust Your flawless navigation. You do all things well.
4. The church is to be like a cruise ship crew.
I was blown away by the crew. They were so courteous, kind, patient, fun, smiling, dancing, joyful, caring, and constantly seeking to serve to the utmost. They bend over backwards for each passenger, striving to make the experience the very best and prepare us well for our final destination. They pour themselves out like this because they want you to go back home and tell others about how awesome your time was and then return with more people.
That’s exactly what our goal as the church should be. We should be loving others in such a manner that we bend over backwards for them, celebrating, giving, serving, and pouring ourselves out for them so that they go back home, tell others, and come back with more worshippers for our great God (Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12, Matthew 20:25-27).
5. God is the absolute coolest for making palm trees and dazzlingly blue water.