Trapped in the Middle of the Ocean -- Third in the Series of Cruise Devotions

"I could never go on a cruise," a friend of mine said the other day as we discussed my recent 27th anniversary cruise. "There's just something about being stuck out in the middle of the ocean, unable to get back to land whenever you want to that makes me feel, well . . . vulnerable," she concluded.

I understand exactly how she feels. 

I shared her feelings as our ship pulled away from the dock on that first day, and I watched the skyline of Charleston get smaller and smaller until it disappeared completely. Although our ship had seemed enormous when we boarded, it was dwarfed by the miles of empty ocean that soon surrounded it. Gazing at the lifeboats strung like wooden beads around the ship caused a tiny flutter of fear to dance in my middle as I pondered the "what ifs."

Other experiences over the course of my lifetime have fed that butterfly of fear:

Taking a mission trip to another country.
Sending a child off to college.
Signing consent forms for surgery.
Helping my daughter move to one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Making a will.

These experiences and others like them cause us to realize a truth we try not to think about -- we are vulnerable.

The apostle Paul felt that same vulnerability. As he said goodbye to loved ones and friends, he said, "I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." He recognized, contrary to what William Henley suggests in his poem, "Invictus," that we are not masters of our own fates, nor captains of our own souls.

On the contrary, we owe the very breath in our bodies and the life in our souls to God's great love and care. Jeremiah the prophet understood this when  he penned Lamentations 3:22. He said it is "because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail."

It is also on the basis of God's love and sovereign control over the events of our lives that we can rest secure. Corrie Ten Boom said this, "In the center of a hurricane there is absolute peace and quiet. There is no safer place than in the center of the will of God." 

This reminds me that I am safer in the center of God's will in the deepest jungles of Africa than outside God's will in my own home. Safety is not in a place. Safety is in a person. And as Corrie said, safety is not always the absence of difficulty, but the presence of God.

Paul knew this. Listen to his poignant words of farewell to friends he knew he would never see again on this side of eternity. 

"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:22-24).  

Is God calling you today out of your place of apparent safety and into the center of His will, risky though that may appear to be? If His calling is sure, you are safe to follow Him. 

 "Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Heb. 11:6).

You can trust Him. 

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:8-10).

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