A week before the cruise departed, I found myself in a prayer circle at church, mentioning that I was about to sail on the biggest cruise ship in the world (Royal Caribbean's fabulous "Oasis of the Seas") and that, during a mission trip to eastern Europe last June, I'd also flown on the world's largest passenger airplane (Air France's Airbus A380). A prophetic intercessor responded, "Seems like there's a message in that..."
Obviously there is much we could say about the bigness of God, His limitless love and power, His endless blessings... On a Catch the Wave cruise, the enormity of the sea and sky - the beauty of creation, and the extravagant goodness of God who allows us to enjoy the richness of life - are all brought to one's awareness in vibrant living color.
[Philippians 4:19 NKJ]
I heard a related message from Heidi Baker on my first Catch the Wave in 2006, that we need to lose this notion that we cannot feed the poor and also enjoy a Starbucks or vacation, as if somehow God's resources are limited or insufficient to do everything He wants to do. It's a lesson Heidi has had to learn as well - that God loves those with material wealth just as much as He loves the desperate poor - and we need to let go of limited ideas about how God moves and loves a lost and dying world back to Himself & His everlasting Life in every possible way.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
[Romans 8:32 NKJ]
2. Joy & Enjoyment
Believe it or not, it took my first 3 cruises with Catch the Wave (this year was my 5th) to loosen a deeply entrenched pattern of "working hard" and really begin to enjoy God's Love and the pleasure we find in His Presence. We can find Him anywhere in the world - among the poor as well as in relative comfort and ease - but if we do not learn to enJOY Him, we risk burn-out and might well question what we are working so hard to share with the world. Is it really the gospel, i.e. "good news?" Do we manifest His love, joy, peace...? For me, Catch the Wave is an exercise in learning to enjoy His Presence, to accept and be saturated in His abundant and overflowing Love.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
[Psalm 16:11 NIV]
Again this year, Rolland Baker, 3rd generation missionary and co-founder of Iris Ministries (www.irismin.org), wonderfully demonstrated and communicated God's love & joy while delivering a profound message on this essential power to sustain us through the many serious challenges that confront those who would advance His kingdom around the world.
"The joy never ends!"
- Pastor Surpresa Sithole, Iris Ministries
3. Feasting, Exercise & Hunger
It may sound silly to write about "my greatest difficulty" on a luxury cruise but, honestly, this time I struggled a bit with all the food. And since God can use anything to teach me multiple lessons - spiritual as well as emotional & physical - it's probably worth mentioning...
There are more than 20 different places to eat onboard the Oasis, and most of them are free (no extra charge above the cruise fare). The Opus dining room serves up sumptuous 3-course dinners, with multiple menu options every evening. Pizza, hamburgers, french fries & frozen yogurt are available all day long around the pool, and the Windjammer Marketplace buffet curves around the entire aft portion of the ship. While there are plenty of healthy options - yogurt, fresh fruit, salads, whole grains, grilled fish, etc. - needless to say, temptations to over-indulge abound.
For the first 3 or 4 days of the cruise, I felt overly full and fat from all the meals - it's not hard to see how this could be a picture of North America, where we have so many resources and don't always realize how it's affecting our health when we consume more than we can really digest. I began to see that the root issue, for me, was that I'd been stressed out and starved for enjoyment - when presented with so many options, at first I wanted to try everything at once. I've heard Heidi speak about bringing orphans home, and how desperate street kids grab for everything because they lack security that there will always be enough. Sons & daughters of the King don't have to gobble up everything in sight - we know there will be another lovely meal later on today, and again tomorrow. Once I realized that I could simply try something new at each meal, I didn't need to "eat it all" in one day - I found it easier to choose, appreciate and enjoy a variety of options (salads, as well as desserts :)) in a healthy way.
For information about next year's Catch the Wave conference-at-sea (February 24 to March 3, 2013) - check for updates coming soon to www.catchthewavecruise.com