I am home.

I am tan.

I am full to the brim.

You are likely thinking that last statement is referring to food and beverage, seeing as I was on a cruise ship, and you would be correct. However, what I am really talking about is my heart. Allow me to explain.

I’ve written before about being a noticer. An observer of life, I sit back and quietly take things in. I was privileged (and I mean privileged) to sail in the MSC Divina’s prestigious Yacht Club, which is touted as a “ship within a ship.” Sailing as a guest of a friend who works for a cruise charter company, I got to enjoy benefits that the majority of cruisers never do. In a privately accessed area, there are just 69 spacious and luxurious cabins, out of the 1637 cabins on the ship, each with its own private butler who learns your preferences and stays at your beck and call.

And that’s just for starters.

All food and beverage is complimentary. Mini-bar is complimentary. Embark and disembark procedures are seamless and take only a few minutes, moving you to the front of the line.

I could go on and on.

But in this atmosphere of extreme privilege, when it’s mighty easy to feel like you’re the most important person on the planet, I was humbled by the people and their stories. Julius, for instance, who was swept out to sea by a typhoon in the Philippines, and, clinging to a floating piece of wood, recited the 23rd Psalm, over and over, until he miraculously made landfall. Or Dominico, who proudly showed pictures of his children, his youngest an infant he’s never held, and whom he won’t until May, when his contract is up.

I listened to story after story of real life, from both the staff and passengers I met along the way. Stories of heartbreak and joy, pain and peace. I reveled in the sweet gift of true friendship with my traveling companions, as we all expressed our own struggles and triumphs. And, as I sit here, back in my own home, where there are no butlers, and I have to do everything for myself, I realize afresh that the real privileges of life have nothing at all to do with me, and everything to do with others.

Sharing each others’ burdens.

Lending an ear and a shoulder.

Rejoicing with old friends and new, and noticing the gifts that the ultimate Gift Giver has placed before us.

Loving each other.

That right there? Well, that can find you sitting in a house you have to clean yourself with a heart that is so full it’s about to burst.

Because, that right there?

That’s what it’s all about.



If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. ~ Philippians 2:3 MSG