Late last year I was on a 7-day cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale to the Western Caribbean with a group of friends. It was a wonderful getaway right after Thanksgiving. As usually happens when you get home from a relaxing vacation, you want to share your experience with others. As I shared it with my friend Hadley, he expressed his joy for me to have had a good time away. Hadley is a homebody, who doesn’t really like to spend time away from the comfortable environs of where he lives. I and others told him how much he would have truly enjoyed the trip. He went on and on about how he doesn’t have a passport. Of course, I’m saying to him just go ahead and get one, that way he’d have it in the eventuality he wanted to travel abroad. Then I stumbled upon the phrase “Closed-Loop Cruises.” I started investigating and found a U.S. citizen can travel on a closed-loop cruise without a passport. Closed-loop cruises must start and end at the same location, ie. Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Lauderdale, and they must call at one foreign destination. Voila! I had the answer for my friend to encourage him to think of going with us on the next planned cruise.

Okay, so that was a long introduction to what this idea of a closed-loop cruise brought to my mind. In a way, our lives are closed-loop cruises. We begin and end at the same destination, with God. God breathes into us the breath of life in the beginning. We travel through all sorts of waters; smooth, rough, turbulent, choppy, and friendly. We call at many different ports along our journey; childhood, schooling, romance, family events, employment, retirement, and even death. When we return to the home port, our last breath is given back to God. All along the journey, we are learning and growing with our experiences. All the while, we retain the understanding that our cruise will return us to our starting point. We are citizens of the country of heaven, although we may not remember we started there. We do, however, know that will be where we end up. Although the cruise is an exciting one, filled with adventure and so much wonder, we are always being reminded we are headed home.

One of the things that reminds me of my friend Hadley is one of his most favorite worship songs, “Sweet Beulah Land.” I’d never heard the song before until he mentioned it. I mentioned it to our friend Cody at Preston Hollow and he knew of it from days gone by. He sang it in worship, we recorded it and put it out on FaceBook, and it quickly racked up tons of views and comments.

“I’m kind of homesick for a country, to which I’ve never been before. No sad goodbyes will there be spoken, for time won’t matter anymore. I’m looking now, just across the river to where my faith, shall end in sight. There are just a few more days to labor. Then I will take my heavenly flight. Beulah Land I’m longing for you, and someday on thee, I’ll stand. There my home shall be eternal, Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.”

You and I are on this closed-loop cruise and we are heading home to sweet Beulah Land. Let’s make the most of our journey, experiencing God in the different places we stop, giving away our life and love to those along the way. During this season of Lent, we are reminded that we will return to where we come from; Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. Our spirit, however, will return to where it came from, to God, and we will be home.

May God’s grace and love follow each of us on our closed-loop cruise. Some of us will reach the home port before others, we are all destined to reach it eventually. May we enjoy the time we have on our journey, all the while looking with longing eyes to rejoining God in that country we are all homesick for.

Your fellow traveler on the Way,
Pastor Tom

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