Bulletin Banner

Return to 1st Quarter 2019 articles.

The title of this month's lead article is Lessons from a cruise ship.

The cover of our 4th quarter 2018 journal shows cruise passengers returning to their cruise ships.

On March 3, 2018, my wife and I boarded a cruise ship for an eight-day “free” cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had “won” the free trip by our participation in a high-pressure sales pitch for a timeshare. I was a reluctant participant in getting on a boat along with 3,000 other people to see places in the eastern Caribbean where I had never been before. Everything in life is a learning experience, and this trip was no exception. Here are a few lessons I learned from a cruise ship:

.....Our ship was called the Crown Princess. The vessel weighed 226 million pounds, was 952 feet long, 195 feet tall, had 19 decks and accommodated 3,200 passengers. How do you move and control such an enormous object, especially when any small mistake would be catastrophic when the ship is docking? The answer to that is to have massive power at your disposal, a plan designed by a knowledgeable source, and workers who work together to implement the plan. In the case of the Crown Princess, there were two electric propulsion motors, six Siemens power generators, four V16 diesel engines, and two V12 diesel engines providing the power. Twelve hundred crew members were the workers, each trained to do their job with many holding advanced college degrees on how to do it.

Cruise ship at night in Puerto Rico

LESSON: The church has all the tools to change the world and solve its problems. The job is massive, but we have a plan designed by the Supreme Intelligence of the universe. We have the power from God to change people's lives, but we have to apply that power in the way it was designed to work. We have the workers, all of whom have “spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12), if we will just work together. The ship only got docked when all workers did their job. We need not to wring our hands or cry at the magnitude of the challenge. God is our captain, and he will bring our task to successful fruition.

Luxury cruise ship sailing from port on sunset.

.....Watching the colossal ship dock is a long, tedious process. A 226 million pound object in motion has a massive amount of momentum. Bumping into something even at low speed would be catastrophic. Once the ship gets within a few miles of its docking place, it begins slowing down. As it enters the harbor, it is barely moving at all. Imagine the time it takes to position a planet in its “docking place” around the Sun! Imagine the time involved in producing enough petroleum products to support the human population on Earth.

The Earth from space

LESSON: Humans tend to want instant gratification, but God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Human denominational traditions try to limit God to a specific amount of time for the creation itself when the biblical record is undated and untimed and the creation week is just a snippet of the total creation process. The evidence shows that God has been working patiently over a very long time to prepare the Earth and its resources to make our existence possible.

A magnificent open dining room on board a cruise ship

.....Imagine the cost of building such a huge ship which includes 1,538 cabins, a theater, four swimming pools, and a dozen eating establishments. What is the purpose of all of this? The obvious answer is to make money. Someone invested a great deal of money believing that by making the ship so enormous and spectacular they could not only gain back their investment but a great deal more. There is great risk involved. Hurricanes, accidents, terrorism, depressions, recessions, world conflict, and a host of other things can cause a huge ship to be a total loss. The recreation industry is a vast, worldwide business with massive financial fortunes made and lost on a regular basis.

LESSON: Christianity is very similar, and individual Christians are called upon to make a massive investment in the Christian journey. The purpose of the Christian life justifies the huge investment that it demands. Jesus indicated this when he said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate [love less] father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Paul said in Philippians 3:8-9, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

Two pilgrims make an oath during the ceremony of baptism in Israel

The Christian journey demands more than what is invested in a cruise ship because its importance is so much greater. You can lose financially by investing in a cruise ship, but you can start over and rebuild your lost financial life. The Christian journey is lifelong and is irreversible. It involves every part of your being and extends beyond this life.

.....The success of the cruise ship is not just whether it makes money. Most cruise ships must be rebuilt or destroyed within a decade or two because of deterioration and competition. There is a constant need to pour money into the ship by adding entertainment and new attractions like gambling and zip lines. Even if a person is 100% successful and makes a fortune on his or her investment, all you have is money and what money can buy.

The Christian life is the complete opposite in all of that. Instead of destroying lives and families, which the recreational industry can do, Christianity brings love and peace and healing to those its journey affects. The rewards involved in choosing to be a Christian are not financial. When the Bible speaks of the rewards, it speaks of peace, joy, and contentment with what you have. It speaks of love, fellowship, and freedom from the destructive elements of this world. The ultimate reward of choosing to be a Christian is that one's life and existence does not become dated or plagued with competition.

For the Christian, this life is but a snippet of existence. Even death is not the end, but rather the beginning of a better existence. Revelation 21:1-5 describes it, telling us the Earth we now live on will pass away and that God will dwell with those who chose to be Christians. It tells us that all the bad things we experience now will no longer exist. It tells us that there will be no more tears, “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God promises us, “I am making everything new!”

Cruise ship sailing into the sunset!

— John N. Clayton

Picture credits:
Cover: © mariakraynova. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© mariakraynova. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© oloros. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© NAN728. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© forplayday. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Kacpura. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© svarshik. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Gino Santa Maria. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.

Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.