Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cruise report #2: sailing

“…and have abundant life” -John 10:10

As we watched from the balcony, the whistle sounded and the vessel moved. The ship finally departed and the sailing began. No, this isn't like some of the cruises you take on your local lake that last about 20 minutes. This is the real deal. We sailed around 2500 miles in total. Parenting journeys begin too with thousands of miles ahead- miles filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats.

As the huge cruise boat sailed along, we passed through calm, beautiful waters and through rough, storm-fed seas. It was amazing how the ballast system of the boat absorbed the waves and left us stable and comfortable nearly the whole cruise. I went on the cruise anticipating getting sea sick, but I never felt nauseous at all. Most of the time I never felt the boat moving. Parenting definitely takes us through tough times and fun times. But God promises that He’ll be our ballast to keep us stable even when we go through the storms. The circumstances can be tough, but God remains the constant- always stable, always sure, always the rock.

As the boat sailed along, there seemed to be a million options of what to do on the boat. Some played on the waterslide, some sat out in the chairs sunbathing, some jogged on the running track, most everyone ate, ate and then ate some more. The challenge was to enjoy the life to the fullest, utilizing every opportunity available. There are so many fun opportunities in parenting. Every stage of a child’s life has challenges and opportunities to have a blast. From age 1 to age 18, there are so many chances to experience the richness of relationship with our kids. If we’re not careful, we miss the obvious opportunities. We’re like a passenger huddled in the corner of his state room, waiting for the ship to reach the next port, wasting the hours of fun and relaxation. We need to avoid wasting the chance to grow in relationship with our kids.

Did I mention there was food on the cruise? Food and meals were provided 24 hours a day, which had no affect on the quality of the meals. The food was phenomenal. Breakfast food, lunch food, dinner food, snack food, ice cream cones, desserts, fruit, dog food (OK, no dog food), multiple restaurants all geared to keep the passengers happy. And here’s the deal….all meals were pre-paid, period. Eat all you want and it all was covered. Everything was provided. It’s amazing how much grace and freedom God has allowed us in parenting our kids. Paul said it was for freedom that Christ set us free. We’re to simply eat. We’re to enjoy the fellowship. We’re to have a blast. We need to avoid the obstacles that keep us from pigging out with our kids- competition, business, too much work, and performance. We need to remember to enjoy the freedom.

The sailing days are a blast because the boat is built for fun. It’s not a shrimp boat or a garbage barge, it’s a “gillion” dollar cruise boat built for the expressed purpose of a great experience. God invented parenting too. He invented it to be a wonderful time of fellowship and fun. Even in the tough times, God intends the family to be at the core of our fulfillment as God’s children. It’s a reminder that our family is connected to the larger family of God. It’s a reminder that this parenting cruise is built for completeness and purpose.

So, get out on the deck and enjoy the sailing days. Be reminded that they’ll be over too soon. Have a blast. Laugh. Enjoy the sun. And don’t eat too much!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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