May 14, 2014

Posted by in Awesomeness, Encouragement, Fruit For Thought, G.I.G., Selah, Understanding | 2 Comments

Godswill

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Lifesaver

Source.

Hey guys! I have the pleasure of sharing an AWESOME short story/allegory by Jason D. Phillips. The first time I heard this story, it was read to me, and I was blown away. The second time I heard the story, I read it for myself and tears fell from my eyes as the words came out of my mouth. I’m in awe of how it vividly paints a picture of our perception of our relationship with God and our actual relationship with God through Jesus. It also helps to understand the importance of remaining in “God’s will.” I hope you’re able to see the parallels, but if you’d like me to do a follow up post to point them out (with scripture), I’d be happy to do so…

Now, without further ado, here’s “Godswill:”

 

GODSWILL is the largest cruise ship in the world.  The tickets are very expensive- some say too expensive- but if you have one, you can do whatever you want as long as you are on the ship: eat, dance, sing, sleep, compete in sports, hang out, date and- when you are on GODSWILL- you can even have sex!  You, however, are a guest- a first-timer- and first-timers need not have a ticket.  As a guest, you don’t have every privilege, but you have been invited to come aboard and have some fun, meet the ship’s Captain and some of the other ticketholders- all of whom call each other, “Brother” or “Sister” by the way.  Everyone who knows the Captain really seems to love him.  When you are told to meet the Captain first, you reply,  “If God-swilling, I’ll meet him,” impressed with your own quick wit.  Everyone laughs with you as if they’ve never heard such a clever pun.

After you come aboard, you join some activities to be a part of the excitement, but you get bored after a while.  So, while everyone is enjoying some freedom on the bow of the boat, you quickly find yourself on the stern, longing for something different.

A man about your age slowly limps up to you out of nowhere while you are gazing at the horizon.  He has a cast on his obviously-broken left arm; he has some clean bandages over what must be some nasty wounds on his legs and a single crutch under his right arm.  He throws you his crooked, spread-finger hand to shake and politely asks, “You are the new guy, right?”  As you nod with a big smile, you shake his hand gingerly and ask a question of your own, “You ok, man?”

“I’m getting better, day-by-day, I suppose.  Trust me, I’m blessed.  Captain says it won’t be long before I heal up.”  After an awkward pause, he moves the conversation on, “You know,” he says, “here on GODSWILL, we enjoy positive, lasting fruit.  Of course, this doesn’t mean life is perfect.  Life is never perfect, even on a ship as gigantic as this one.  What it does mean though, is that on GODSWILL, we trust the Captain when he says that things all work together for good somehow.  Believe me, the life the Captain promises us here has more meaning, purpose, glory and rewarding eternal benefits than any alternative.”

“Oh, here we go already with the church talk: fruit, purpose, glory and eternal.  There is always one guy who is trying to tell ya what ya can’t do!  Why the sermon, Dude?” you ask yourself.  “Good grief!”

Then with his right index finger bent in a few degrees, he points toward the open seas and says solemnly, “Although tantalizing to your eyes, the ocean out there beyond this ship offers only temporary pleasures.  In fact, you may not realize it at first, but death is its only long-term prom…”

“How do ya know that?” you interrupt.  “It looks awesome.”

“I asked the same question once not long ago,” he continues. “Believe it or not, many good people have fallen prey to its enticing beauty.”

“That sounds a little dramatic,” you mutter under your breath.

This poor guy is a nice enough fella; he is gentle and really seems to care, but look at him!  You are able-bodied and stronger than he is and you are obviously more capable than he is so you just nod respectfully until he decides to hobble off. “I bet it’s a lot of fun out there,” you think to yourself.

Once the poor beat up fella is out of eyeshot, you go for it.  You hurtle the railing and descend the ladder just to dangle your feet in the water and it is just as exhilarating as you thought it would be!  All five of your senses ignite as the rush of warm water swirls around your feet like the jets in a hot tub.  You’ve never felt anything like it before.  When you hear one of the brothers approaching, you quickly pull your feet out, dry them off and casually greet him the way everyone seems to greet each other on this boat: “Hiya doin’, Bro-?  Praise God…uh, from whom all blessings flow, right?  Praise Him all creatures here below… Amen and praise God…  Be blessed, Brother.  Yes, sir!  I’ll catch up with you in a minute, for sure!”  And when Brother passes by, your feet go right back into the water.

Just like anything you do over and over, this routine gets old fast.  Like one beer or one cigarette, just having your feet in the water doesn’t light you up the way it used to.  Chasing the same high, you need a little more so, while all the ticket-holding brothers and sisters are enjoying whatever it is that they want to do on bow of the boat, you jump from the stern into the water headlong this time.  You are still right up next to the ship so when you hear a brother approaching, you can still quickly get out, dry off and casually greet him with the familiar greeting: “Hiya doin’, Bro-?  Praise God…uh, from whom all blessings flow, right?  Praise Him all creatures here below… Amen and praise God…  Be blessed, Brother.  Yes, sir!  I’ll catch up with you in a minute, for sure!”  And when Brother passes by, you are right back in the water.

This is fun for quite awhile and no one seems to know that you are dabbling outside GODSWILL.   That bothersome, inner voice that was reminding you of your earlier conversation with that beat up guy is now quieted by other voice that says, “See!  There is no harm in this!  No big deal!”  It isn’t long before even this gets old so instead of bobbing in the water right up alongside the ship, you start swimming around and diving deep below the surface to see the hidden world underneath- the world that no one on the deck knows anything about.  Detonating your five senses all at once is an awesome feeling.  As you swim laps at a distance from GODSWILL, you smirk, “Those brothers and sisters ain’t got no idea what they’re missing!  Nothing up there is as fun as this down here!”

With practice, you get pretty good at the routine of jumping off GODSWILL and returning to fool any casual passersby.  When you hear someone approaching, you don’t always race up the ladder anymore, dry off and greet him as you used to either.  That was getting old too.  Now, you just quietly stay where you are or dive down deep until he passes by.  When he’s gone, you resume doing what you have convinced yourself isn’t harming anyone.  Sometimes you marvel at your own craftiness, especially because no one suspects a thing… or so you think.

But one day, something happens that catches you by surprise.  While you are stealthily swimming laps by the ship as you have done countless times before, the clouds suddenly cover the sun; the baby-blue sky turns to midnight-black and thunder booms in time as the peels of lightning litter the horizon.  You attempt to retreat to the ship, but it gets worse…much worse!

Like the Tasmanian Devil, wind begins to spin in circles and the waves aren’t Waikiki gentle anymore; the huge curls crash upon your head, slapping your face like a load of bricks as the rush of hail from the sky pelts your skin.  If that isn’t enough, sharks surface and begin to bite and nip at your bruising flesh, causing you to bleed and curse as pain now couples with your fear.

Quick flashes of those simple-minded, brothers and sisters sitting poolside, drinking their virgin daiquiris sprint through your mind as you review all the things you would do differently if you had the chance.  You fill with regret and curse aloud for never considering the possibility of your current nightmare.   Now you wish you weren’t alone.  You wish you were with them where they are, but you aren’t and there is no help on the way; there are no helicopters and no life rafts because no one even knows you are lost.  No one knows… or so you think.

No storm just tosses you around in place.  The giant waves crash upon you- one after another- and they push you out into the open waters, farther and farther away from GODSWILL.  You struggle to keep your head above the water and at least one eye on GODSWILL, but soon the waves are just too much.  You are pushed under the water with the ship on your left just to resurface facing another direction!  “Where is it now?” you ask aloud, “It’s probably gone.”  Now you are lost for sure and your hope is out of sight.

The storm does eventually calm down, but your situation is still very grave.  You are beaten up; you are weary and exhausted, bloody and badly bruised.  Treading water used to be easy, but now anything to help you float would be a welcomed relief.  You would swim towards GODSWILL if you knew which direction to swim, but you have no idea.  Again, it’s probably gone.  All you can do now is try to make a life for yourself with whatever you can find where you are.  Perhaps you can use that old cooler lid for floatation, your shoestring for a fishing line and your tattered shirt for a shade.  You’ll do the best you can, I guess.

“Who is that…over there?  Is that…?  Is that someone else?” you ask aloud as if anyone could hear you.  Your despair quickly dismisses the possibility as you come to terms with your new reality: “This is the life I’ve chosen.  I’m alone.  I had my chance and I blew it!”

Oh, if you could just see where GODSWILL is!  You think the Captain would be willing to help those who help themselves, but you have no idea how to help yourself now!  You remember a song you heard once that said if you make a move towards GODSWILL, the Captain will meet you halfway, but in which direction do you swim?  Does that even apply in this circumstance?  GODSWILL is probably so far away by now that trying is pointless anyway.  Resigned to do the best you can to suffer through what’s left of your life, you just wander pitifully.

Tired and out of options, you scream at the top of your lungs: “Captain!  If you could only hear me, I need you.  I’m dead if you don’t save me.  I know you care because I know your reputation.  If you are as merciful as the brothers and sisters say you are, I am truly sorry for what I’ve done.  Save me.  I don’t want to die; I really want to live!  I want to be on GODSWILL with the others and for the rest of my life, I’d share my story of how you recued me from death.  Captain, if only you’d rescue me!”

The Captain of GODSWILL isn’t like other ship captains.  Unlike the others, He hears your plea, but He doesn’t send a boat for you; he sends no helicopters and doesn’t call the military.  He comes to you, Himself.  He steps off the deck of his ship and- on the water’s surface- walks straight to you!  Your eyes get as big as silver dollars as he bends down and lifts you out of the water.  You cannot believe what you are seeing!  You have been wandering aimlessly for what seems like forever, but Hope has arrived.  He dries you off and carries you like a newborn baby back to the deck of the ship while he whispers in your ear, “I gotcha, Bud.  I gotcha.  It’s going to be ok.  I AM the Captain.  I AM in control because…well, because I AM.”  You cry hysterically when you realize that Captain saved you!

As He lays you down on the warm, sun-dried deck of GODSWILL, you get a quick glimpse of the massive anchor that holds the ship in its place.  It never moved!  Everyone gathers around to see what’s going on.  “Who did He find this time?” a familiar voice asks from the back of the growing crowd.  Everyone knows what you did now, but surprisingly, not one person is judging you; no one is hurling insults.  Instead, everyone seems to be gracious and full of compassion, almost like they could somehow relate to your pain.  As you lay there just this side of death, the Captain slips a ring on your now-crooked finger and places a full-length robe around your neck.  As he does, you see him point to someone just outside your swollen field of view and say, “Light those grills and let’s hear some music!  This is going to be one huge celebration!”

“Celebration?  For whom?  Me?  What…Why?” you stammer on.  “Wait!  Why are you throwing a party for me after what I’ve done?” you ask still coughing up water from your aching lungs.

Waiting for you to catch your breath, the Captain- looking deeply into your bloodshot eyes- stands to His feet.  The crowd quiets down instantly as if they knew what He was about to say. “You,” He says.  “You, my boy, you were lost, but now you are found.  Welcome home!”  Then He takes an aged, stained ticket out of His jacket pocket while the crowd stands by with great anticipation.  He scribbles something on it and places it in your still-shaking, weather-beaten hands.  It reads, “This brother is with the me.  Signed, I AM.”

At that, the crowd cheers and begins to chant something very familiar to you, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above the heavenly hosts.  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Ahhh-Men!”  This time, you sing too- softly, but with all your heart and with great joy.

Later, a nice man about your age slowly approaches you with a barely-noticeable limp.  He has some nasty scars on his legs and a left arm that is oddly cocked at the elbow.  Politely, as he takes you under the arm, he says, “Hello, Brother!  Let’s get you all cleaned up.  GODSWILL is going to port soon to pick up another new guy.

-Jason D. Phillips

**G.I.G.**

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