Tag Archives: life journey

Some Questions as We Sail into a New Year

Well, we’ve done it again. Managed to blunder on into another new year.

Hmm. I wonder why just now I said “blunder”? Amazing how just a few letters carelessly tossed together can affect the taste of the whole word’s salad.

I could just as easily have said “wander” or “stumble” or even “stagger.” None of the above would have been much nicer or more optimistic, I’m afraid, and I apologize for that. The flavor of those words is rather pointed out by that word “optimistic” which is precisely what they are not.

If the captain of the vessel upon which you are sailing is heard early in the morning to grouchily exhort the helmsman, “See to it, Smythe, that you don’t blunder onto any rocks near the shore today,” well, that’s not a very inspirational thought for passengers who’d on the whole prefer to face the voyage with higher hopes than avoiding a bone-crushing fatal wreck on unseen reefs and a cold gruesome death by drowning.

Whether your journey is by train, plane, or automobile, you’d generally hope, I’m sure, that the engineer or pilot or driver referring to the day’s travel would be judicious in his or her use of such uninspiring words and sentiments. You’d generally like to think that the journey had some sort of plan to it and that those charged with its execution had at least a modicum of expertise and skill with which to execute the plan and conduct a pleasant, rewarding, and eventually successful trip.

Oh, yes, you’d like to think so. But therein, I suppose, lies the question. Is this journey we’re all on actually going somewhere? Is there a point to it? Are we on course or just adrift? And who, pray tell, is doing the steering?

I’m wondering a bit right now about the course of this column and where it’s tending. It’s possible that in the next few paragraphs I may completely answer the questions just raised, queries that have found their way into human minds ever since our ancestors had leisure to quit running from saber-toothed tigers and pause in the breath-catching to think loftier and more complicated thoughts. If I do blunder, wander, or stagger into profound answers, I’ll be surprised. I will say, though, that I think the answers center on the nature of the journey, the passengers, and, most important, the Captain.

For my part, I believe that the journey has a point and a destination. That the Captain has given us such freedom to make real and consequential course decisions along the way is sobering. (Entering this year with two loud out-sized “characters” bantering about the size of their nuclear buttons is not particularly encouraging.)

I think the Captain—the best and wisest of all—has given us a “seaman’s manual” to help us in plotting a wise course and to show us how other travelers have sailed. The whole point of the manual is to point us to his best gift, an ever-present Guide who sails with us, for whom no storm has ever been a match, and in whose strength a wonderful destination is sure and secure.

I, for one, need to be reminded to sail with much more real confidence, joy, and hope than might be my natural inclination or warranted if I were my own master. My Captain can steer me past all blunders and through all sorts of seas safe into Port, and that’s a hope-filled truth to shine a warm light on the whole voyage.

By the way, may I suggest that you turn to the manual and read Psalm 121? Great words for travelers all along the journey!



      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.



Some Gifts, Some Sacrifices, Take Your Breath Away



Some gifts, some sacrifices, take your breath away.

Thank you. Two little words stammered out from beneath a gentle waterfall of tears.

Though they flow from the wellspring of your heart, they seem so little compared to the gift of the heartbroken family of the organ donor who just gave new life to you or to one you love more than life.

Maybe birds were singing, the sun was shining, and everything in that person’s world seemed filled with life on the day they checked the “donor” box on the driver’s license form. Death by boredom in a DMV line seemed more likely than a violent, untimely passing. But now?

One family’s deep sorrow. Another’s undying gratitude.

Three weeks ago you could barely walk across the room. Now you can hardly wait to dance! With every step, every breath, you thank the giver.

Or change the scene.

The striking young couple standing at the altar would light up the sanctuary even if all the candles burned out. It’s their wedding day, a day as beautiful as they are.

Before God, his people, their families and friends, they stand hand in hand, making the vows, speaking the promises. Heartfelt. Real.

They exchange the rings, eat the cake, head off to the honeymoon, and begin life together.

And then, wonder of wonders, a new life, a precious little girl! She lights up the lives of her parents, her grandparents, their families. With just a smile and a giggle she carves her initials into hearts we’ve already lost to those brown eyes.

But just as the joys of life are deeper than we might have ever dreamed, so at times are its sorrows.

“In sickness and in health,” was the promise. We choose life together. In good times and in bad. Their voices signed the covenant on a bright cloudless day, but signed for just such a dark time as would come when…

The cancer. The treatment. The consequence. No more children. At least, not of their blood.

Well, already that one. What a blessing! But the God who has never seen a situation he could not redeem was not finished with blessing.

A very young unmarried couple in real love. But too far too soon, a human mistake. But not a mistake for which they were willing to make the purest, smallest, and most innocent pay the ultimate price. To carry a child for nine months is never easy. But to carry a child to give as a gift of deepest love?

A week ago, that little gift was born. This grandfather will never forget opening the door and walking in with her sister to meet Kendall Briley Shelburne.

Smiles. Tears. Laughter. Joy. Deep gratitude. Our family will always love and honor those birth parents. So young. But filled with love for that little one, and trusting, with wisdom beyond their years, that there is no situation the God who allowed himself to be hung on a cross cannot redeem.

Some gifts, some sacrifices, take your breath away.



        You’re invited to visit my webpage at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!




Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night . . .”

Galilee Storm and Christ

Fear and faith. Both color our journey in this life. I hope we know ourselves well enough to just frankly admit that it’s no rare occasion when the former threatens to swamp the latter. It’s nothing new.

In Mark 6:45-52, the disciples of Christ have gotten into a boat on the Sea of Galilee to go ahead of the Lord into the village of Bethsaida. Jesus himself has stayed behind to dismiss the crowd of 5,000 which he has just fed, and to go up on a mountainside to pray. Out on the lake, in the middle of the night, a storm has come up, and the disciples are straining at the oars “because the wind was against them.”

You know the feeling, don’t you? We’re in the same boat.

Often in our own journeys, the wind seems to be against us. It blows in the form of trials that test our faith, weaknesses in ourselves or others that cause us pain, bad decisions complete with unpleasant consequences, awful diagnoses, sudden tragedy.

Sometimes we’ve steered the wrong course and are in treacherous waters. We should have been wiser sailors. We should have consulted the Captain of our souls, His compass, His chart.

Sometimes the storm is simply upon us and the most experienced sailor in the world could not have seen it coming. But come it did.

Several of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that night were experienced sailors, fishermen who knew its every league, every fathom, every eddy. From the sea, they had drawn out their living, but suddenly they are faced with the prospect of dying in its depths.

At around 3:00 a.m., in the middle of that dark night, Jesus goes “where no man has gone before” (at least not without a boat), walking on the water. He hears their cry for help, and he gets into the boat.

That’s the Incarnation, folks. That’s the Lord of the sea saying to them, to you, to me, “Don’t be afraid; I’m with you on the journey.”

On the sea that night, the disciples had lots of fear, precious little faith—just enough to let their Lord get into the boat. Maybe his gift to them was that on that day, when that was all the faith they had, that was all the faith required. Maybe that is his gift to us, too.

Ah, it is a wonderful gift! When we’re tempted to be paralyzed by fear in the face of all that has happened and all that might happen on the journey, the Captain of our souls comes to you and to me and says, “I’ll never ask you to take a journey that I won’t take right by your side. Just let me into your boat.”


       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com


Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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