It was the late 40’s when our family went cruising through the Islands of the Caribbean… St. Kitts, Antigua, Montserette, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and on to Guyana. Seeing for the first time the flying fish, the steel bands, the mangoes, Lord Nelson’s Dockyard and Sam Lord’s Castle, a fascination unequalled enthralled us. The Leeward Islands captured us from the moment we saw that first mountain on the horizon that looked like nothing more than a cloud in the distance, to the moment they faded from view across the stern of the ocean liner.
We had some very serious problems develop in our family and my father, determined to “get our act together” mortgaged the family home and took the family aboard the Canadian Steamship’s, Lady Nelson, for 28 days in the Caribbean. I did not recognize then what he was doing, but after he and mother had celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I realized what they saw in real value that could not be seen by others.
We had not been accustomed to all that one was to receive on such a trip. Seven pieces of silverware was initially rather confusing. We reveled in a large bowl of fruit always present in the cabin, our tub filled with hot water by the room steward, tea and crumpets, unbelievable menus, and dinner with the Captain of the liner. My Dad told me that the best pineapple in the world was found on the island of St. Lucia and the next morning after we left St. Lucia, he was on deck cutting up pineapple for each passenger who wanted a piece.
It is not hard to recall his comments shortly after leaving Bermuda. “The ship will be taking on people beginning at St. Kitts. They will not live on this deck, but rather will move to the bottom deck in the back of the Lady Nelson and there they will care for themselves as they travel!”
When leaving St. Kitts we went aft that night to see what might be taking place with people who were traveling “steerage” – sleeping bags, hammocks, blankets and some sleeping on the piles of rope scattered around the deck. They would be moving from island to island. I listened to the conversation and found it interesting, at times scary, and at other times amusing. I listened late in the evenings when they sang their calypso songs, enjoying as I do to this day the uniqueness of its style.
That was over fifty years ago. This morning I was reliving those 28 days and was reminded that on that ocean liner there were several classes of people traveling with a variety of accommodations being provided… and I had the best that could be offered.
We were not living in plush accommodation for we could not and would not appreciate half of the things they would have to pay for in those cabins. Neither were we traveling steerage where we would slug it out for ourselves. Please, note that these people were completely satisfied to just “get by” in their travels, singing all the while with little more than a cane over the shoulder and their entire possessions wrapped in a sheet or towel.
We were traveling with every need being met and with lots of little niceties being thrown in. Comfortable is really not adequate to describe what was ours for that month of luxury. Our Dad made a sacrifice that enabled us to have this wonderful experience and I treasure the memories even now.
God made a sacrifice… His Son. He emptied Himself! His provision of all of the riches of Heaven is available to us through that sacrifice. Because of His riches that are bestowed upon us as His children, we can enjoy a fulfilled life.
The sevenfold roll call of blessing in Ephesians 1 — chosen, predestinated, adoption, accepted, redemption, forgiveness, inheritance… shows some of what we have. Ephesians 1:18, 19 further elaborate why we are traveling with “the hope of His calling”. The riches of glory and “the exceeding greatness of His power” area part of our own personal possessions. Understand me, we do not deserve these, nor is there any entitlement to them; we are only recipients of His provisions.
You can travel “steerage” if you want, or you can embrace all of what is provided for you in Christ Jesus.