Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Ship "Even God Couldn't Sink"

A Titanic replica cruise sheep.  Really?  Billionaire Clive Palmer must have lots of time on his hands, and an alleged 40,000 people have expressed interest in advanced tickets.  This whole thing seems so bizarre to me, but has served to get me thinking ("a dangerous pastime, I know" to quote Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), and examining myself and our culture once again.

I swore I'd never go on a cruise.  I get horribly seasick, and thought being on a ship in the middle of the ocean would make me feel like a caged rat.  I was picturing enclosed cells and ropes hanging everywhere, and miserable looking starved dogs...too much Disney "Pirates of the Caribbean" for sure.  Of course I knew that cruise ships were extravagant and luxurious, but the imagination can be more powerful than fact to the mind, hence my considerable hesitation.

After the devastating, exhausting experience of the car accident in 2009, and the subsequent fallout, we told our kids we were going to take a special celebration trip of their choice.  Our vacations have always been to our rented 2 bedroom Cape Cod cottage for a week every summer, so this was extravagance in the extreme for our family.  I wanted to drive the coast of California.  They wanted to cruise the Caribbean.  Guess who won.

We spent a week on the Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. No one was as surprised as I at how much I loved the experience.  My favorite part: the warm wind blowing through our balcony cabin every day in the middle of February.  This was a once in a lifetime trip.  Wildly expensive (we went during school break!) we felt like Solomon when we set foot on the sparkling Allure.  The whole thing was exceedingly restorative, with the sun shining down on the upper deck, a book in hand and rest for a little while from the world of hospitals, orthopedic surgery, brain injury and lifelong challenges and heartaches that must still be reckoned with.  I was grateful, grateful, grateful.  And a little uneasy.

There will always be, and I think always should be, a tension that comes with extravagance.  The truth is, there are people in this world who barely have enough to eat.  A cruise ship is an orgy of food.  There are folks in this world wearing rags.  The Allure hosted parties where people were wearing outfits worth more than my car.  There are men and women laboring without vacation time and for subsistence wages, while on a cruise ship money is gambled away, drunk away and thrown away.

I feel the tension as a Christian every day with all I have compared to what others lack.  Smitty and I evaluate and re-evaluate what God is calling us to give.  We must continue to do this, to find our way, to grapple with it, and to keep on giving.  C.S. Lewis, when asked about the subject of giving, challenges me again:  ”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”

Clearly, wealth is not an evil, but a blessing.  The bible is replete with grave warnings about the LOVE of money, but some of God's most heralded children were the billionaires of their time.  Job.  David.  And of course, Solomon, whose discourse on the disappointment of riches is documented famously in the book of Ecclesiastes.

I will be turning this one over for the rest of my life, but it's a subject worthy of continual re-evaluation.  More important than what one gives, though, is Who one gives one's heart to.  This is the ultimate question for every life ever lived on planet earth. 

There is a scene in the movie Titanic which grafted itself into my consciousness-I hope forever.  (No offense to the hoards of people who loved the movie, but I found the narrative, well, dumb.  The stuff with the ship, however, was unforgettable).  Anyway, while Jack and Rose are off in some freezing cold hold of the sinking behemoth, there is a shot in the dining room that is a metaphor for the celebrity and glamour of this temporary world.  There in the 1st class banquet hall, where earlier the rich and richer nearly flamed with pride and arrogance, float the vestiges of vanity.  Gorgeous china dishes bob along littered waves of seawater, furniture crashes down in smashed, soaking heaps, elegant chandeliers flicker until they die out completely.  And God, who speaks in a thousand places, reminds me "Don't call the worthless precious or the precious worthless." 

I'd be a real pharisee, not to mention the world's biggest hypocrite, to imply that no one should ever enjoy a marvelous vacation.  But in America we've got this thing backwards.  We're living for vacations, living for comfort and ease, looking forward to the day we can finally put our feet up and relax for good.  While people are out there, neighbors, friends, strangers, or maybe it's you...without hope and without purpose and without God on this sinking ship.  Vacation is a week or two, not a life. 

Fame, fortune,pride,...they're all going down folks.  But what a real adventure to live the life Jesus said was the abundant life.  To find the ones who need your help, your money, your love...and give it to them in the everyday, right where you are!  Your coworker who's gasping for kindness.  Your next door neighbor who can't keep afloat and doesn't even have the strength to mow his lawn.  The kid  in Haiti who won't drown in ignorance or wear rags if you take the $40 a month you spend on coffee and send it to him.  (Samaritan's Purse or Compassion International can help you with this).  Oh, I love preaching to myself!

As for me, I'll skip the new Titanic. I'd have to ride in fourth class anyway, and I know I'd need to mainline Dramamine if I was stuck down there.   But mostly, this mind has to dwell on the lovely, or I'm sunk.  Thank God for His Son, my lifeboat, and the anchor in every one of my storms.  I'd rather ride a raft with Him through a hurricane than be king of the world.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,



  1. Great words, Loriann! I'm so glad you write. It encourages me.
    This post made me remember that when we tune our ear to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, our "little" can become the perfect amount to meet a need where He's pointing. Our lives can help bring heaven to earth when we are obedient in our giving (not even limited to our moulah). It's not compulsion that causes us to give, but obedience to His voice. :) Thanks.
    We love and miss you guys.

    1. Amen Melanie! If it becomes a law unto us, it becomes a sounding gong or a clanging symbol. There are things to give that have nothing to do with money, and money to give that has nothing to do with amount. I continue to wrestle with all of this everyday...Ultimately, all that remains are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love! Love you dearly, fellow pilgrim!