Recently, I was privileged to spend a month on an extended cruise. I was accorded a sacred trust – I was asked to preach the interdenominational worship services on the ship. What a diverse congregation gathered for the services! Those ‘gatherings’ open the door for daily conversations with fellow travelers about the Lord. When people recognized Miss Sue and me at meals or sitting on deck, they felt free to approach us and ask questions or to share their story.
One lady that I talked with several times seem perplexed about what to call me. She said, “Do I call you Doctor Lauter, Reverend Lauter, Pastor Lauter, or Father Lauter?” I replied, “How about Roy.” Sea days provided time for the spiritually curious to seek us out for possible insights into unresolved issues in their lives. The Cruise Director also asked me to have coffee with him numerous mornings. He even invited me to share with him and some of the cruise’s headline entertainers on several occasions. In addition, we had opportunity to build relationships with several of the servers and cabin stewards.
I sat in the ‘Horizons’ observation area early each day for morning coffee. Many of these mornings, an older lady who attended the worship services would seek me out for a time of devotions and fellowship. She also developed a close relationship with my wife, and tears were shed by them when the trip came to an end.
One morning as I looked out over the immensity of the ocean, the words of a chorus that I learned somewhere in the past echoed through my mind:
Wide, wide as the ocean,
High, high as the heavens above,
Deep, deep as the deepest sea
Is my Saviors love for me.
How did I end up enjoying such a remarkable experience? It certainly wasn’t based on any merit on my part or by campaigning for the job. I am still mystified by the way the Lord opened the door. I can only bow my unworthy head and give thanks for this rare and special opportunity. I have appropriated Paul’s instructions to Timothy as my own, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2, NIV). How about you? Are you ready to seize the opportunities that the Lord may send your way?
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
~ Brother Roy