As the time of your cruise draws nearer, you begin planning how to get the most out of it. You are a little surprised when you receive the rather impressive guide, but you eagerly start flipping through the pages. Frankly, you might as well call it a guidebook, because it’s definitely no travel brochure. The first thing you notice as you glance through those pages is a collection of cautions, warnings, and emergency procedures, and make note of what you should avoid. Sure does seem to be a lot of those, though.
As you continue to browse, you see recommended itineraries, with suggestions for how to enjoy the trip as much as possible. You could take advantage of a whole host of fantastic accommodations if you want to. Some of those opportunities seem a bit odd and not quite a good fit for you; but as for the others, some parts of this guide seem to have been written with you, personally, in mind.
Along with the warnings and the perks, you’re drawn in by a section of testimonials from people who have taken this cruise before you. Many of them feature glowing reviews, some seem to revere the Captain quite a bit more than you would’ve expected. The other reviewers, well, as you read their stories, you realize they refused to pay attention to those warnings you’ve been reading, and they didn’t even bother to try any of the recommendations. Those folks didn’t even seem to want to get along with the Captain — some of them outright refused to cooperate, and those folks, in particular, seemed the most miserable.
As you keep going, you realize the entire book is crammed full of details about the Captain, Himself. You begin to recognize His likes and dislikes, and you can see He really wants you to enjoy this cruise. You do find out a lot about His character and perspective as you read, and you even start wanting to be like Him.
When you arrive at your cabin, you find an elegant invitation awaiting you. The Captain has invited you to dine with Him at the Captain’s Table. You could, of course, spend your time eating at the all-you-care-to-eat buffet and settle for less than the best, or accept the Captain’s kind offer and spend some time getting to know Him.
As you join the Captain, He introduces you to some of the others He has welcomed to His table, and you find you have a lot more in common with them than you thought — even though you’re each from wildly different backgrounds. All in all, quite a fascinating bunch, and you do hope you get to spend more time with them.
Even given their company, your attention is drawn back to the Captain, Himself. The more you talk to Him, the more you see why so many others are so glad to have met Him. When the two of you start talking, it’s almost as if the rest of the world fades away, and it’s just you and Him. He asks if you need anything, and you realize there’s almost nothing He wouldn’t do to help you. Between the guidebook He provided, and the sacrifices He’s already made on your behalf, you begin to realize just how much this Captain really cares about you. It’s more than a little humbling. A bit uncomfortable, you begin to excuse yourself thinking maybe you don’t belong with this crowd, and thanking the Captain for this opportunity, you tell Him you hope to do this again, some time.
The Captain looks at you with a bemused smile and explains that He thought you understood, you have a permanent invitation to dine with Him anytime you wish. Not sure how to respond to such a gracious offer, you sit back down and continue to talk, and your discussion inevitably turns toward the future and where you’re headed, and He reassures you He’s got everything under control — even when it doesn’t feel like it. He starts to share some of the upcoming ports of call for the next few stops because He wants you to be prepared for whatever comes. He reminds you not to worry as your eyes bulge at His description of what’s coming up next. Perhaps out of kindness, He only shares a little bit of what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“Trust me,” he says. “Let me handle the plans for next week, next month, even next year.” Sill somewhat unsure of yourself but relieved, you make your way to your cabin and begin to plan for the next port. When you do reach the next port, you’re prepared to stretch your legs a bit. As you head toward the gangplank, The captain calls out to you and you turn as He approaches. As you greet Him, He introduces a local guide who volunteers to take you along all the best paths (some of which are tougher to navigate than others) to the most impressive sites. As you head to the shore this time, you’re sure you’re going to enjoy whatever lies ahead.
Your guide turns out to be better than gold. He has a keen, almost otherworldly sense for trouble and how to avoid it, or for the finding the hidden gems off the beaten path of the world around you. You get the distinct impression that if you’re willing, your guide will take you to heights you’ve never imagined, and see you through depths you never would have imagined you could cross. You look forward to finding out.
I hope so.
As God directs the course of our lives, He offers us a few ways to make sure we’re headed where He hopes we will go.
If we really want to know and understand God’s will for our lives, we should spend as much time as we can in the cruise guidebook, the Bible, paying attention to the warnings, blessings, and cautionary histories, and looking for all the hints to His true nature He has placed within the pages.
To be honest, most of His desires for our lives have already been outlined in the pages of Scripture: be honest, be kind, love God, love people, work hard, take care of others, show mercy, offer forgiveness, bring others to Christ… all these instructions are already very clearly provided in God’s Word, so why do we act like it’s hard to know what He wants from us?
If we want to make the most of our journey through life, we should make the time to dine at the Captain’s Table, daily. Jesus Christ says: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” in Revelation 3:20. He wants to spend time with us, every day. What better way to know what He hopes and dreams for us? Choose to spend time with Him, reading His Word, talking to Him in prayer, and listening for His direction. For that part of His plan for our lines that truly is unique to each of us, we’re going to need to spend time asking Him for direction and listening and obeying when He shows us a path forward.
The others gathered around His table? They’re what we like to call “the Church”. God gave them to you and you to them so you might encourage one another, and spur each other on to good deeds. If you have no interest in the Church, you’ll never convince me you’re truly interested in pursuing and experiencing all God desires for you. He meant us to live this life together, not apart.
Finally, Christ promised to send us a guide, a comforter, and a teacher to instruct in the way we should go just before Jesus’ own ministry on earth concluded. He told us that He had to go away, so the Holy Spirit would come. The Spirit called Paul and Barnabus out into their missionary journeys, inspired Peter to stand up and boldly proclaim the gospel on the Day of Pentecost, led Philip to the side of a man in a chariot who needed to understand who Jesus was, and why He had come. That same Spirit offers to guide us into all truth and give us the power to do everything God has purposed for us to do.
You want to know God’s will for your life? Spend time in His Word, spend time with Him in prayer, spend time with others who serve Him, and spend every moment following the day-to-day guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let Him deal with whatever icebergs may lie ahead.
He’s better at it.