Last Friday, Linda and I returned from an 11 day Caribbean Cruise. She took me on this cruise as a celebration of a pretty significant milestone as far as birthdays go. (I’ll be 50 next week!)
Now that we have two cruises under our belt, I think I can more knowingly say that I DO enjoy cruising. My enjoyment comes from my love for travel and visiting new places. A cruise lets me unpack my luggage in one room, settle in, and wake up some mornings in new countries! We visited Grand Cayman, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Cozumel. It was super relaxing and fun to experience these places with my wonderful wife.
But as we endured the days of sun, travel, novelty, entertainment, great food, and opulent accommodations . . . A metaphor began to develop for me. I was well aware that the cruise ship is NOT real life. We had someone to make our bed and a buffet available all the time. We had a waiter who would unfold our napkins and place them on our lap. We had people who were on board strictly to keep us entertained. We participated in trivia competitions, game shows, the captains soirée, soccer shootouts, and plenty of time on our private veranda watching the miles and miles of ocean go by.
The cruise ship had almost everything that people really say they want out of life, but very little of what we need. We are not made to cruise . . . We grow though challenge. We thrive in the push and pull of struggle. I found myself near the end of our time on the ship praying that God would allow something from the novelty to translate into real life blessings.
Despite our not knowing it in advance, Linda and I needed the time away. And it was very good for our relationship. The absence of wifi and cell signal for most of the 11 days was almost worth the price of the cruise. But in my REAL life, I need to cherish my wife, WHILE wifi and cell signal are bouncing off everything! God has allowed some things from the fake life of cruising to translate to our lives already. He has helped me to bring back to my real life a renewed reminder that Linda is my best friend. And that is priceless.
But he has also helped me to bring back to real life a reminder that I am not made to be served but to serve. I could get used to always being served . . . Given enough resources, I could board a cruise ship and never disembark. (A couple of points of reference: we ate dinner with one retired couple who had lost count of the number of cruises they have been on around 30 . . . And on the 1st cruise we took over 15 years ago there was a couple who were living on the ship and had been there for over 180 days!) I was reminded the place of retreat is NOT the place of growth. The place of the retreat is the place of gaining perspective! And retreat is only beneficial if there is an intention to get back into the fray!
I am very grateful for the time away. But further, I am glad for the return. I don’t want to cruise through life with ease . . . I want to continue to grow and serve! And I am so glad for the partner that God has given me in Linda! And I’m so grateful for the REAL life God’s given us here in Mattawan, Michigan. We were ready to come back and get back into it. And that is a gift, too.