What Ship Is This?

CRUISEDisorientation is often a matter of expectations.

Gary Barkalow of The Noble Heart  says that we can become confused if we imagine that life is like a cruise ship when it’s really more like a battleship.

What happens when we board a battleship thinking that we’re going on a pleasure cruise?

We’re expecting to relax in the sun, but the first thing we notice is a conspicuous absence  of deck chairs. While roaming the very clean decks we can’t even find any recreational equipment. There are no shuffleboard courts or volleyball nets.

We might think, “Well, we’re here for the food.”  But there’s no endless buffet. There’s no feasting on rich fare. There’s no chocolate fountain. We get three squares a day. That’s it. And what’s really annoying is that we can’t even sleep in, because breakfast is served at 5 am (or as they like to say, 0500 hours). And if we miss breakfast, they don’t save us anything.

OK, so we’ve accepted the fact that on this cruise ship, it’s not about the journey, so it must be about the destinations.  We expect smooth sailing to peaceful locations with beautiful settings. But this ship repeatedly sails into the most hostile environments. “Hey, they’re shooting at us again! That’s it. Now we’re going to complain.”

As we look for a crew member to whom we might issue our complaint, we notice that all we see are crew members. Come to think of it, we haven’t seen a single other passenger since we boarded this miserable tin can.

That’s when it occurs to us. We’re on a battleship. There’s a war going on. We’re on a mission. There’s an objective. And we have a particular role in this war effort. We’re not passengers. We’re part of the crew.

This discovery changes our perspective. And our realization doesn’t take the fun out of the journey, but actually adds to it. Party cruising makes us numb and leaves us empty. But God’s desire is that we be engaged and alive through participation with Christ in His mission of redemption. Real Life is not amusement, but adventure with a purpose.

With Jesus in command, danger is certain, but victory is guaranteed. In company with Him, life’s about the journey and the destination.

What ship do you think you’re on?

8 thoughts on “What Ship Is This?

  1. Okay, Dave, your drawing made me laugh. “Man Tan” — really? And I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in a Hawaiian shirt.
    But your post is dead-on: I do like to think (and act) as if this life is one long vacation, one ongoing pleasure cruise. And when it isn’t, well, my attitude needs a serious adjustment. As a matter of fact, I’m all “Hey, I want a refund!” or “Can I transfer to another ship?”
    Yeah. Lousy attitude.
    While life isn’t a pleasure cruise, there are many pleasures — joys — to be found along the way. Fellowship with other believers. Fellowship of the Spirit. Hope. Knowing my inheritance is in heaven … yeah, I need to remember those truths when the bombs are flying.

    • Tanning is what we did back in the day. Now we sunscreen, I guess. And nobody has seen me in a Hawaiian shirt for the last decade because I haven’t been to a beach since 2003. Analogies can be a bit limiting, so I’m really glad you brought up the joys and pleasures along the way. Bonding with Christ and with our fellow soldiers is what brings joy to the mission. And the eternal reward of our inheritance is something I was forgetting today. Thank you for reminding me, sister soldier 🙂

  2. It’s been a long, long time since I thought of life as a cruise ship.

    Life isn’t about rights – it’s about responsibilities. To God, and to our fellows. The only guarantee we have is that when we fall, Someone will come for us. And that has to be enough.

    • ” when we fall, Someone will come for us. And that has to be enough” Andrew, most of us will only learn the enough-ness of that Someone when we have really fallen or suffered terrible loss and there is nothing else to rely upon. We learn not by ear but by experience. With what you are going through, I am confident you know experientially the truth you have stated.

  3. I laughed out loud at “Man Tan” sunning lotion. What a great picture, Dave! And that Hell Shell looked deadly.

    I like to think I’m in charge of how my life sails. I’m ashamed to admit how many times God has had to readjust my thinking. It’s, um, a lot. When I can see life through Jesus’ perspective it makes it so much easier to walk through the struggles, the battles. When my eyes are on Him and not on me, or those around me, I can go through the battles with His peace and security.

    This was my favorite line: “Real Life is not amusement, but adventure with a purpose.”

    Super post, Dave.

    • I did my best to work a masculine angle on suntan lotion 🙂 You’re right to point out that, even when we expect struggle and resistance and attack, the most important thing is where we focus our attention. What you said reminded me of something someone recently wrote: prayer is our “eyes on Christ, not the crisis.” Thank you for bringing up that most important point, Jeanne. I appreciate your comments.

  4. “What happens when we board a battleship thinking that we’re going on a pleasure cruise?” Oh, you don’t really want me to go into the details, but it’s ugly. I throw tantrums when I don’t get my way, even if they’re just in my head … still not pretty. I have to say, though, I like the sound of “adventure with a purpose” and I like the way I feel in the midst of that sort of thing.

    Shouldn’t be hard to choose … tantrum vs. adventure with purpose? Thanks, Dave.

    Oh, and that drawing is very appropriate for a recent online conversation I had with your wife. 🙂 That’s how we’re going to look when she and Beth and Sonia and Ali Beth and Katie Beth (hope I didn’t leave anyone out) come to the beach. Any chance we can borrow your Man Tan?

    • Thank you for your good input, Kim. I tend toward interior complaining, too. I’m starting to recognize the downshift in my attitude sooner and move back toward adventure with purpose and God’s transforming process.
      I’m all for the beach gathering. I’ll bring a case of Man Tan! 🙂

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