The great voyage of life

February 12, 2016

The Pastor's Page

voyageThe course of our life may be likened to a great voyage.  Our life is a boat.  We set sail at birth.  The length of the voyage is our allotted time.  Conditions vary greatly as we cruise along.  The calm days when the wind is light and the sea is smooth are those times when all is good, and the blustery days when there are whitecaps and the sea is rough are those times when we are beset by hardship.  Headwinds are our challenges and opponents.  Tailwinds are our good fortune and helpers.  The deep, dark sea represents the forces of evil and temptations that rise up and try to swamp our boat, or, if we fall out of the boat, try to engulf or drown us.  Our final destination is a well-protected, safe harbor, and when our ship ties up for the last time and we step onto the dock, and then onto peaceful shores, we have arrived at our eternal homeland, heaven.

One day Peter was in his boat by himself close to shore.  Jesus happened by.  Jesus got into Peter’s boat, and Peter joyfully welcomed him into his life.  Once Jesus was in the boat, he went to the front.  From the first moment, Jesus was in charge, and Peter, who formerly had been at the helm, relinquished control and took his directions from Jesus.  Jesus was the captain.  Peter was the first mate.  They were on the voyage together.  It is the best way to sail through life.

Initially Jesus and Peter put out from shore a short distance, only a few yards, and the water was shallow, only a few feet.  Jesus starts slowly.  The first leg of the voyage is rather safe and not all that demanding.  The important thing is that Jesus and Peter were spending quality time together and a new bond was quickly forming between them.

If a sailor is to reach the final destination, one cannot stay moored close to shore.  At some point it is necessary to shove off and set sail.  It is much riskier away from shore, but absolutely necessary to venture forth.  As the boat edged away from shore, Jesus was Peter’s constant shipmate and his reliable partner.

Jesus asked Peter to enter deep water and to lower his nets.  As Peter would sail through his life as a disciple, Jesus wanted him to take on matters of deeper significance.  Jesus wanted Peter to go after more fish and bigger fish, to preach to more people and to influential people, to catch more believers, and to take on a larger leadership role.  “The deep” is scary and intimidating.  Jesus certainly reassured Peter, “Do not worry.  We will do this together.  I will always be in your boat with you, and as you sail along, and as the storms come up, and as your challenges intensify, I will with you to guide, help, and protect you.”

Not only did Jesus want Peter to go out into deeper water to catch more fish, Jesus also wanted Peter to go deeper spiritually.  Jesus wanted Peter to go deeper in his relationship with him and commitment to him; deeper in faith and prayer, virtue and holiness, generosity and service, integrity and character, and willingness to sacrifice.

Similarly, Jesus wants to come into our boats.  He is hoping that we will welcome him into our lives.   Jesus will chart the right course for us.  Jesus will ask us to go out into the deep, to embrace some major tasks.  He will be our constant companion and helper, and as the voyage nears completion, he will guide us to safe harbor, our dwelling with him forever in heaven.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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