Singapore en route to Indonesia
I had plenty of inspiration and time to think about boats today as my friends and I crossed the Straights of Singapore by ferry on our way to Indonesia. The Straights of Singapore is a busy super-highway for all sorts of ocean-bound vessels. Last week a ferry carrying more than 200 people collided with a cargo tanker in the waters off Indonesia’s Sumatra island. Eight people were killed — not exactly the kind of news you want to hear when you are getting on a ferry. It’s hard to imagine how something like that could happen until you make a ferry crossing. Our journey to the Riau Islands took us past dozens of intimidating behemoths that towered above our humble little ferry-boat. One wrong move and … well, you know!
My earliest memories of boats date back to my preschool days when my parents took my sister and me on a family vacation to Corpus Christi, Texas. Dad took 8mm home movies of us feeding sea gulls from the top of a tourist vessel in Corpus Christi Bay and visiting with shrimpers on the T-Heads at the marina. Over the years I have done a good bit of travel on various kinds of boats. I have traveled aboard a big ocean-bound ship as well as an assortment of motorized crafts on the Bay of Bengal. In 2003 I spent a week on a leaky wooden boat while visiting remote villages along the Brahmaputra River. My friends and I christened that boat “A River Runs Through It.” A few years ago I stayed on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Kashmir and traveled to and from shore on a shakira boat (a water taxi). And of course, over the past couple of years I have logged lots of hours in a canoe on Texas rivers with my son Jonathan.
As our ferry-boat started to move today I tracked our progress on my iPhone. I love this technology that enables us to see our progress in real-time. As I watched the little blue tracking dot on the map approach the mouth of the harbor, I thought about something that Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe offers a complimentary warning: “Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done, but did not do.” The truth of the matter is that, in any endeavor or enterprise, we cannot make progress unless we are willing to leave the security of the harbor and lose sight of the shore.
Last week’s ferry boat collision reminds us that leaving the harbor certainly has its risks. Any vessel or individual that leaves the harbor is always exposed to greater risk. Risk is about exposure to the chance of injury or loss. However, we must not allow the fear of injury or loss to keep us anchored to the docks. John A. Shedd said, “A ship in the harbor is safe but that is not what ships are built for.” God did not design us to stay in the harbor or to always sail within sight of the shore. He designed us for greater things. We can only discover the fulness of what He has in store for us when we are willing to lose sight of the shore and head into open waters. So, be willing to take some risks for purposes greater than yourself and discover what God built you for. Leave your harbor. Anchors aweigh!