(Part One of Come Sail Away is here.)
As you leave the prayer meeting, you feel a tingling sensation from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, and you know it’s the Holy Spirit. So many like-minded people, praying and believing together, will surely move the heart of God!
You decide to grab your prayer journal from your cabin, find a comfortable chair in the sea breeze, and spend the rest of the afternoon in quiet meditation.
As you make your way through the maze of corridors, you find yourself in an unfamiliar part of the ship. The hallway is wider, softly lit, and the floor is marble now instead of linoleum beneath your flip-flops. These must be the first-class cabins – for the white wristband people. As you try to decide whether to keep going or turn around, a door swings open down the hall behind you and a raspy male voice speaks from inside the room.
“I like the way you think,” he says. “You definitely have a future with the organization.”
You get the urge to hide, and duck into an alcove just ahead on your right.
A woman’s voice replies, “I look forward to it, sir.”
“You’ll let everyone know the plan then?” he asks, and then, “See you at dinner.”
As you lean against the wall to catch your breath, you realize the niche – which contains only a broom, a mop, and a few cleaning supplies – completely hides you from view.
You hear a few step on the marble floor, then knocking, and another door opens right around the corner from you. You hold your breath.
The same woman’s voice says, “Hi. I have a a quick update.”
“We’ve been waiting. Come on in.”
The door closes, and you breathe again. You’re about to head out to find your cabin back in the economy section, when suddenly you stop short. You can hear the woman speaking almost as if she were right next to you. Your alcove is adjacent to the room, and only a panel of drywall separates you. You’re not the type to eavesdrop, but something catches your ear.
“He wants to speak to the whole group tonight at dinner. He’s going to talk about the illegals at the border.”
There is a murmuring, then someone asks,”Illegals at the border? Isn’t it too soon?”
“He doesn’t think so,” the woman replies. “He’s got some Bible references, and you know, he has a way with Christians. He knows what they like to hear. Then we incorporate that stuff into the Bible study tomorrow.”
“I’m just not sure it’s a good idea,” someone interjects.
“Why don’t we pray about it?” another voice says, and everyone laughs heartily.
You feel a tad offended by that last bit – prayer is not a joking matter – but mostly you are curious about this speech. Who is the speaker, and what is he going to say about “illegals at the border”? The group in the room breaks off into multiple conversations, and you decide to get out before they start to leave. For some reason, you don’t want to be seen in this part of the ship.
You slip out of the cubby and head back toward where you came from, taking note of the room numbers: the group is in 342 and the raspy-voiced man is in 337.
After a bit of wandering, you find your way back to your cabin. You try to meditate, but you’re too distracted. You get ready for dinner and walk up and down the Promenade Deck until the dining hall doors are opened.
Dinner and border talk
You take a seat where you have a good view of the stage. It’s all very odd, and you don’t feel entirely comfortable with what you heard. But maybe it will make more sense when whoever-it-is makes that speech.
A steady stream of people enter the room. Many of the white-wristband people seem to know each other, and get tables together; the purple-wristband people are spread out, and as the tables fill up, everyone makes small talk.
The waiters begin bringing in the salads and pouring ice water, and you try to chat with your table mates.
An hour later, the meal is winding down, and a young, blonde woman walks briskly onstage. She is impeccably dressed and looks positively thrilled to be there. “Good evening, everyone! Wasn’t that a delicious meal? Let’s give the cooking staff and the wait staff a big round of applause!”
Then, “God is so good, isn’t he? We are so blessed to have so many like-minded people together on this beautiful cruise, ready to study the Bible and discover how we can bring God’s kingdom to earth.
“I’d like to introduce you to our captain. He felt moved to speak to us tonight about some things that are on his heart. Please welcome him with me.”
As the diners cheer and clap, a man walks onstage. He is also well-dressed, and also looks very happy.
“What a nice-looking group this is,” he exclaims. “Are you enjoying yourselves so far? This is the most beautiful ship, probably of all time. I love this ship. I have a yacht too – much smaller, but very beautiful. But this, this is tremendous.
“America is also a beautiful place, isn’t it? Aren’t you glad to be American? Our country has been very blessed, very blessed. We’re prosperous, and we’re kind and generous people – especially Christians. Maybe we’re too kind and generous, because everybody wants to come and get a share of the goodies. That’s what I want to talk to you about tonight.
“We – you and I – we want America to continue to be the best country in the world. Right? Is that what you want? We want to raise our children to be good, honest people. We want them to be influenced by good, honest people. We want them to be safe. So we need to guard our borders! We need to guard our borders for the children’s sake, because we want them to be influenced only by good people, not dangerous people.”
He talks about the laws that keep America safe, and the lawbreakers that make America unsafe. The audience nods somberly.
“Let me read something for you from the Bible,” he says. “Nobody knows it’s in there, but it is. And it’s important. It’s probably the Bible’s best-kept secret. It’s from the section called Romans, and it goes like this:
“Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So – and this is key – those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
“Who knew that was in there? We’ll talk some more tomorrow, but let me just repeat: I will do whatever it takes, whatever the cost, to keep America safe and untainted for our children.”
The audience gives the Captain a standing ovation. Of course they do – children are their highest priority. They have made great sacrifices to raise their children to love and obey God. They don’t want to lose it all to someone who thinks they’re above the law.
As you applaud, you wonder for a moment why you felt uneasy this afternoon. This man hasn’t said anything objectionable, has he? He obviously cares about children and loves America. Why were some of those people worried? Why did they think it was “too soon”? Too soon for what?
As you leave the dining hall, you can’t shake this unsettled feeling. How differently you feel now, compared to when you’d left the prayer meeting this afternoon. Then, you’d felt excited and optimistic about the future – now, for some reason, that’s all gone.
You decide to walk awhile in the fresh night air. Hopefully that will help you relax so you can get a good night’s sleep.
You don’t know it now, but things are going to get a lot weirder on this vessel.
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