A cruise ship and a tidal wave

I had a dream this week, the night before the moving men came to pack up my house. I was sailing merrily on a beautiful cruise ship with my family. The sun was out and I was on deck looking out over the water. Happy days, good times. Then I spotted a tidal wave in the distance, racing across the open water. I raced for our cabin grabbed my kids and tried to quickly stash all the loose items in a closet or drawer. There was some screaming involved but I don’t remember any life jackets or sense of impending death, only that the ride was going to be rough for a bit. When the wave hit, the whole boat lurched to one side. It shuddered and leaned way over. Then, very slowly, the ship began to right itself until it sat upright with water pouring out of the lower portholes like a child’s toy in the bathtub. Our cabin was a mess and kids were crying. Then things settled down and the ship began its journey again while we cleaned up the mess and tried to catch our breath.

What a fantastic metaphor for my life right now! My happy life, the tidal wave of big changes coming, the rough ride, and the slow return to some state of normalcy. Do you see it? Do you also have a “tidal wave” in your life right now?

I am married to a sailor – an honest-to-goodness bareboat charter captain who used to race 40 and 50 foot yachts when he was in college. My first trip with him was our honeymoon where we sailed a 32 foot Beneteau by ourselves around the British Virgin Islands for 10 days. I really liked living on the boat and cruising around most of the time. However, any time the wind was seriously blowing and we started “really” sailing then the whole boat would lean way over (heeling) and water would come over the lower rail and I HATED that… and he loved it.

“The safest place for a ship is in the harbor, but that’s not what ships were created for.” – Andrew Stroud

So one day my husband took me to see some sailboats that were dry-docked. He showed me the keel, underwater steel piece of a sailboat’s frame that is heavily weighted. There are many purposes of the keel (and you can read Wikipedia if you’re curious) but one of the most important things it does is allow the sailboat to heel way over and capture the energy of the wind without capsizing, or to right itself if it is knocked down by the wind. I asked if you could lose your keel and he said, “Not really since it is an integral part of the structure, it would rip a huge hole in the bottom of the boat and you’d have about 30 seconds before sinking.”

So, from a spiritual perspective it is our relationship with God that serves as our keel – allowing us to ride the heavy winds without capsizing and return to an upright position if knocked down in a storm. It is the depth of our relationship with Him that gives us certainty that a little leaning and a little blowing will not be the end of us!

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. – Sir Francis Drake

Invest in your keel – go deeper with God – before the waves come! Be prepared to ride the waves and the wind and laugh with the spray of the sea in your face.

“If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will lay hold of me.” Psalm 139:9-10


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