I have always known that I was incredibly blessed. I have had amazing experiences throughout my life beginning with annual road trips to see much of the United States and then moving into adulthood and finding a love for cruise vacations.
I have been privileged to go and see and do many things that have been awesomely wonderful, building an arsenal of memories with those I love most.
A Stark Reminder
It was on one of those trips recently that I had a stark reminder of just how blessed I am. Our family was celebrating the high school graduation of our youngest child, Brandon. We opted to take a cruise vacation to commemorate his accomplishments. This trip was somewhat similar to trips that we had taken in the past, but yet we did have new ports of call and had opportunities to see and do new things together.
We visited a cave in Jamaica, swam with sting rays in Grand Cayman and scouted out new territories in Cozumel in our rented Jeep. It was certainly a vacation to remember. We played trivia together, tried new foods in the dining room and even visited the spa for ultimate relaxation.
Yes, it was a great time and if that was all that happened, it would go down into the pages of my memories as another fun time we spent as a family.
But this trip was different.
On Friday, our last sea day prior to debarkation, the Captain came over the loudspeaker and made an announcement about a raft of Cuban refugees that we had spotted off of our starboard side. At that announcement, most every passenger onboard our vessel rushed to the starboard side of the ship to catch a glimpse of what he was talking about.
How Cuban Refugees affected me
I am not sure how this experience affected the other passengers.
I do know for me it was incredibly heart wrenching. You hear about these situations semi-regularly on the news, but there was something more real about it when you could stare off the side of the massive ship to see these 27 desperate people packed into a make-shift raft.
What a stark contrast!
Here we were on this virtual floating city where we could eat and drink until we were stuffed, we could shop, play games, lay by one of several pools, choose one of many hot tubs, visit a spa, see a show or watch cable television in the comfort of our own stateroom.
Here they were most likely not having had food or drink since they set sail in the shark infested waters.
The same water that to us had been a source of extreme beauty and a means to get to wonderful destinations had proven to be treacherous to them, and they were definitely at its mercy.
As I stood on the aft of the ship with my kids watching the U.S. Coast Guard gather the boat and the people, we began to talk about what would drive someone to do this.
I explained to our son that these people lived in a country where they are not free. They do not have many of the things that we take for granted. They have heard about a better life and they were willing to risk everything at a chance to experience it.
Then I began to explain that their efforts were in vain as the Coast Guard would have to return them to their home country, where they will most likely suffer extreme punishment for their attempts to flee.
Watching these events unfold certainly had an impact upon me. They made me understand better how truly blessed I am. Even when things go wrong, I am blessed.
The true reason for being blessed
I realized that I am blessed not by what I have or the things that I have done, I am blessed because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ!
Everything else is just gravy. (I admit, I have had A LOT of gravy!)
Are you blessed? Do you know Jesus?
You can. It is as simple as recognizing that you are a sinner and need him. Ask for forgiveness and turn toward him. Then, even if you find yourself in a tattered lifeboat out in dangerous shark infested waters, you have the hope of knowing your life is in His hands!
And those are the best hands I know of!
Because marriages matter,