I’ll say it loud and proud – ‘Kiefers love cruising!’
I have personally been on three cruises in my half a century existence and I’ve adored every one of them. My wife Michelle and I have sailed throughout the western Caribbean and up to Alaska. The last one we took was as a family down to the Mexican Riviera, made famous by Doc, Gopher and Captain Stubing. Dollar-for-dollar, there is no better way, in my opinion, to have tons of vacation options while enjoying a sense of adventure than on a cruise ship. The entertainment and service are first class, and the sense of disconnection is priceless. Did I mention the food?!
The last cruise was on the Carnival Splendor, a massive 950-ft liner that takes fun and luxury to a whole new level. After booking our tickets, my nerdy ‘current events junkie’ mind sent me a memo – “Steve, that ship is the one that had an engine fire a couple of years back and had to be towed back to port.” Wikipedia confirmed the memo! But, I thought, ‘These things rarely happen, and I’m sure the problem has not only been fixed on Splendor, but on all of the Carnival fleet’. Gratefully, our excursion down the coastline was trouble-free. However, history has a way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?
As I peck this, tugboats in the Gulf of Mexico are towing into Mobile Bay the disabled Carnival Triumph. What was supposed to be a 4-day ‘fun cruise’ has turned into a week-long nightmare for the 4,000 on board! An engine fire disabled the great ship’s major systems – including propulsion. Reports indicate that people are sleeping on decks to keep cool, raw sewage is everywhere, food is scarce, nerves are frayed, and conditions are declining rapidly. What began with fantasies of mai tais and buffets has turned into lukewarm tomato sandwiches and inoperable toilets! Naturally, the cruise line is doing all it can to buffer the blow by reimbursing the passengers and getting them home as safely and comfortably as possible.
Then it hit me.
Something designed for adventure – absolutely dead in the water – drifting.
Did you know that the Splendor and the Triumph represent our lives?
The New Testament tells that sin has separated us from God and that the consequence of that sin is death. Though our lives were divinely designed for relational adventure with the Lord, we used our gift of freewill to mutiny against Him. The result? Our lives are as dead in the water as the ships I’ve referenced.
Then, on the murky horizon, when all seemed lost, a light appeared – a heavenly light of love, grace and mercy! Paul described it beautifully – ‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.’ – Ephesians 2:4-5.
The Bible tells us emphatically that without God’s grace exclusively through His Son Jesus Christ applied to our lives - we are all dead! - Not sick - not injured - not broken - not weak – morgue-gurney dead! That every life (no matter how ‘good’) that does not receive the divine resuscitation of God through the completed redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross is dead, drifting and on their own.
Remember, the gospel is not ‘good news’ – its great news! We once we’re declared ‘dead’ by the Great Physician; but now through Him, we are eternally alive in Him.
Now that’s Splendor!
Now that’s Triumph!