Cruisin’

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, while Tony was on enforced rest following gall bladder surgery, we, with the stirring of some old missionary friends (who by the way aren’t any ‘older’ than us!) cooked up a plan to take one of those discounted last minute cruises in the Gulf of Mexico. Since the price was quite nice, coupled with the fact that none of us had ever set foot into the Caribbean, we signed up. There was a wedding we needed to attend that would take us conveniently half way to the port; so following the doctor’s instructions to (more or less) sit in the sun and take it easy, we embarked. Yes, you may be guessing when you read “cheap and quick”, it was the same cruise line you’ve been hearing about in the news this past week. In fact, for a few days, we were booked on THIS very same ill fated boat until we found even a better deal on her sister ship, the Carnival “Magic”. The troubled Carnival Triumph (a misnomer, if there ever was one!) suffered a fire in the engine room which knocked out all essential services, leaving her dead in the water for almost a week with no electricity, water, internet, or tv, and probably most unpleasant, no “stabilizers” which are those things which extend out each side of the ship to keep the rocking to a minimum. With none of the things you normally expect on a cruise, including air conditioning and toilets, it was … well, you get the picture. I would imagine you could all recount similar situations in your own lives: those times when you say, “There but for the grace of God would have been me”. I’ve certainly been saying it this week. I mean, look at me; I don’t swim. I get seasick. I was a little tremulous to say the least about even setting sail under the best of conditions. But I’m happy and very thankful to say, we had the proverbial “perfect trip”. The weather was indeed as magic as the ship’s name, the food and activities were not to be forgotten. I did almost knock myself stupid on the water slide and was thankful that there were no children to observe the old lady upside and face down, who shot out of the tube and landed in a large ‘plop’ like a beached whale! My point. Can I say God protected us from the Triumph? I was so worried about going, just because it was so frivolous, how can I then say God BLESSED us? I have a friend who says “God doesn’t get involved with things like that”, and calls me spiritually egotistical. Is that true? What really happened here? I honestly don’t know. I can certainly recall times when God SEEMED not to have been there in my times of need. The most significant time by far was when our son slipped away from us in death, in spite of the prayers and pleadings of people all over the world. Looking back on that day,even as I had those feelings of utter abandonment, I believe that we still knew even then, that on some deep level, He was there. And that made all the difference. Escaping a particularly bad cruise is certainly not the same as facing the death of a loved one, and I don’t mean to suggest that at all. But in the comings and goings of life, from the most frivolous times of fun and frolic, to the deep valleys where we find, in the words of the Psalmist, that “darkness which touches”, in every instance there is the abiding Presence, always there, always working, always… well, SOVEREIGN. I often say “Joy” is not the same as “Happiness”. Joy, like the ocean, goes deeper and therefore is less likely to be tossed about by the waves we find on the surface. Often we have stabilizers in the form of money, friends, memories…… to crush the waves and keep us happy, but sometimes everything seems to go wrong and we are tossed and thrown around. I have no doubt that there were a number of committed faith walking Christians leaning over the rail with the rest of the 5000 passengers on the Triumph this past week. Thankfully I believe they’ve all docked safely in America now, even if they did miss their destination port by 300+ miles. But what would they say about a Sovereign God Who would allow a vacation go so, so wrong? I’d love to hear your comments. For the meantime I have to say a big “Thank you” to God that he ‘let’ us be frivolous and irresponsible and I will say even “blessed” us with good friends to share a lifetime of history with as we sailed along in the blue skies. I’m thankful for the good times and will try to remember them when the “not so good times” inevitably come. I do believe that God cares and watches over us continually, and maybe, just maybe, sometimes he just gives us interesting stories to tell when we get home and cleaned up. Here’s two verses. I like the first one, but have to understand that the other one is just as true. Malachi 3:10. …….throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing…… Job 13:15 ………though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him. We always pray that your sailings are smooth! Stay tuned, as we continue to wait for medical clearance so we can get back to Japan.

Marsha

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