What started with such a glimmering hope of adventure, became a journey that, in the end, couldn’t be over soon enough. As a first timer going on a cruise, I was ill prepared for the pacific ocean in the dead of winter. What could be better than Thanksgiving on a cruise right? The gleam and glitter, the sparkling twinkle of the lights ashore as we left Los Angeles that night, are crystal clear in my memory. Perhaps so because of this shot I took from our room’s balcony during the departure late that night. The gentle rocking waves in the harbor, the smell of salt in the air, and the cool breezes all seemed to welcome me aboard, whispering a fond bon voyage.
Then, reality set it.
I was going to be on this rig for 14 days… hmmm.
I know people personally who can’t get enough of life on a cruise ship. They go all over the world, and they look for new adventures, all the while sailing the oceans on a vessel holding 2,000 to 3,000 souls. I applaud their tenacity, but alas, it is not for me.
In the darkness of a night on the ocean, overcast, with visibility about 50 feet or less at times, while torrential rains added more water to the 15-20 foot waves, I thought about 12 men in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. They too thought they might die in the deep dark waters. They too were very close to panic, and perhaps even those seasoned fishermen felt a little nauseous as they fought to stay afloat. Then as a flicker of lightning lit up the sky, they saw what they thought to be a ghost hovering above the water coming directly beside them. Turns out it was the form of a human man… walking on the water.
The panic of just a few minutes before turned into stark terror. What made it worse, if there could be a worse, the Scripture indicates that He intended to pass them by [Mark 6:48]. I’ve often wondered about this phrase. “He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.” Why? He clearly saw them “straining at the oars.” Why was His intention to pass them by?
In Matthew’s version of this story (chapter 14) it seems to be more about Peter and his abandonment of all sensibility, hopping out of the boat and going to the Master. But even in that narrative, it is difficult to pass by the underlying truth in the telling of the tale.
The fact is, when we place our hope in boats, or in my case a cruise ship, to keep us safe in the middle of an ocean, we are trusting in the wrong object of our faith. It is Christ alone who is sovereign creator of all we see, including the wind and the waves. It is Christ alone who will save us, when we cry out to him in our darkness. It is Christ alone who offers these words, to the disciples then, and to us today… “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” [Mark 6:50]
There are times today when my life seems dark and dangerous, just as menacing, just as threatening as those 15-20 foot waves right outside the door to my balcony on that ship. In these moments I hear the voice of my Savior, calling out to me, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”
This phrase is my glimmer of hope. In what or whom do you place your hope today?
“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” [Psalm 39:7]