This past summer, the Marshall family traveled to the Seattle area to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Our trip took us through one of Washington’s famous ferry systems. It was the first ferry ride for the kids. They loved it. If you are not familiar with Washington’s ferry system, it is based on the fact that Puget Sound is too deep for a bridge between the mainland and nearby islands. Most ferries are car carrying behemoths that appear to swallow cars and then spit them out at the next stop. If only Jonah had had the luck to catch one of these ships instead of being swallowed by a large fish.
In early August, any trip to Whidbey Island will be pleasant and ours was no exception. The boys got out of the car and ran up to the observation deck. We watched as the ferry churned the deep blue salt water into a foamy thundering swirl of white water as we pushed away from the dock. Twenty minutes later, the ferry reversed its engines and gently settled into the destination dock. It is an impressive thing to experience.
Here is a picture that was snapped by a friend of a family member at another time. An October storm brought winds above 50 mph and heavy seas. The ferry is over 300 feet long, 78 feet wide, and weighs 4,954,000 pounds, unloaded. It can carry 130 cars on two levels and 1200 passengers. This storm created a battle between ship and sea. During storms, the crew plots a less vulnerable course but at a certain point the captain has to steer into the storm to get to the dock. This picture shows the ferry taking a wave right over the bow undoubtedly washing the cars in sea water and perhaps freeing them from their blocks. It must have been a frightening ride that day.
Does the picture remind you of storms that you have gone through in your life? If this were a parable, I’d say that the mission of Christ is the 4.9 million pound ship and challenges in life are the eight foot waves. The ship is going to win and it will get to shore. But sometimes, riding on the ship we know as Christ’s mission means getting a little wet. For us deckhands on the SS Mission Ship, we can’t always see the shore and sometimes the waves feel like they are battering us down. But the captain, seated high up, keeps his eyes on the dock, always mindful of our safety and our destination. As is written in Deuteronomy, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, for the Lord goes with you; he will never leave you or abandon you.” (31:6).