31 Mar 2022 Ocean deep faith
Story and Photo by Laurie Green
I once read something that said, “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him what you have planned for the day.” That being said, I knew EXACTLY what I was going to write for this issue about faith, however God had other plans and this is completely different than I had anticipated.
I am a very visual learner and being that God specifically created me this way, it shouldn’t surprise me that He would use one of my most favorite places to reveal the life lesson I’m about to share.
First a little back story. I am an avid lover of cruise life. If I could be anywhere, it would be smack dab in the middle of the ocean. For me, this is the closest place that I physically feel like I’m in the presence of Jesus. While folks are on deck soaking up the sun, eating from an endless buffet and dancing (like no one is watching) to The Cupid Shuffle, I can be found on our balcony, captivated by the richest hues of turquoise waves splashing as far as the eyes can see. Every sunrise and every sunset is a masterpiece dancing across the water. It truly is my happy place, so it was a dream come true to spend this most recent Valentine’s Day with my husband, Will, on another cruise together.
While this marked our fifth cruise together, this was our first cruise to ever go without friends and it definitely proved itself different. Remember that quote at the beginning about how to make God laugh? Well, I had many plans decided, none of which included being seasick. However, on day two that’s exactly where I found myself. I spent the next two days drinking ginger ale, eating ice cubes, and sleeping. My sweet husband spent the next two days taking care of me and watching folks enjoy Cozumel from our balcony. Definitely not how I envisioned our getaway.
As the last day of the cruise rolled around, I finally felt up to getting out and about to enjoy the time we had left, but again, that was about to prove to be a day like no other. For reasons that I doubt can ever be understood, a lady named Robin lost her life at sea that afternoon. This is one of those rare moments that I simply fail at finding the words to describe the situation, but all I can say is the whole atmosphere changed.
Suddenly the tranquility that I was so accustomed to feeling as the waves would crash against the ship shifted. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself on this emotion, but all I could feel was panic, chaos, and fear. Those very same waves suddenly felt different to me, and the peace that I normally experience being so close to Jesus smack dab in the middle of the ocean was replaced with a helplessness and despair. In that tragic instance, all I could seem to do was look out at the ocean and see how big it was and how small and alone we were. I know Robin was a wife and a mother of two young children. I know she has a host of family and friends who are completely devastated. It is heartbreaking to imagine that the last day of Robin’s life is blasted on Tiktok and YouTube videos. I refuse to believe that this horrible and tragic instance should be what defines her life. I do want to add that what most people will never know is that Robin changed the life of all of us cruising that day. Many of us have been blessed to be able to send words of sympathy and encouragement to her immediate family and help collect a fund for her children. We have become a “family of strangers” in the midst of this tragedy, and I know she made an impact on me.
I remember my husband and I standing on our balcony all alone and trying to pray. I say trying because neither of us could find our voice over the lump in our throats. Thankfully we serve a God who can hear our hurts and decipher our tears. I realized the reason I felt all the chaos around me was my eyes had stopped watching how BIG Jesus was in that moment and had my focus on how big the ocean seemed. God is present not only when the outcome isn’t what we want, but especially when that happens!
People will read stories and they will Google the events that took place on this cruise, but for my part, I want everyone to know what most of you will NEVER hear. Jesus was in our midst on this cruise. I know this because scripture tells us in Matthew 18:20 that where two or more gather as followers, he is there among them. In the moments that would follow, there were individuals who took to the ship’s microphone and prayed for us all. No one was excluded, and in all honesty, it is possible that this may have been the first time some people had ever prayed. It didn’t matter the color of our skin or the places we lived, we all had a common bond of tragedy that entwined us.
In the days to follow, our cruise Facebook group shifted from an information page to a place of prayer, healing, and honestly a version of therapy. I have needed this as much as everyone else on our cruise has. I have learned in life that tragedy can absolutely tear you apart without Jesus to hold you all together.
In closing, I just want to say that I know without a doubt that God can and will find a way to ALWAYS make beauty from ashes. I’ve already witnessed Him doing that now through this tragedy. Will we cruise again? Yes, absolutely. And will I stand on that balcony surrounded by nothing but sky and water and feel OK? I like to believe that I can and will as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and my faith as deep as the ocean blue.