Centuries ago, on the shores of an island in the Pacific, a group of people gathered together on the beach at daybreak. Young and old, men and women, they were healthy, strong, and capable. Their double-hulled canoes were loaded up and ready to launch for distant shores that may or may not be there. One by one, they made their choice, climbed in the canoes and began their voyage together. They carried with them not just the physical necessities for the journey ahead, but also a strong sense of hope and vision for a new start to a better life. Why would this band of people leave their homes and familiar surroundings to set off into the unknown? It could have been a thirst for adventure or conquest. It could have been a run for freedom or a pursuit of greater resources. Or perhaps it was something more profound, a quest for deeper meaning in their daily existence. Whatever the case, we know that they were seeking more. And they risked everything to find it.
We all have a story, a story much like those early adventurers who sought to push the boundaries of their world. Oftentimes our story drones on with the daily-ness of life that scrapes away at our hearts; in other seasons it’s filled with the drama of discovering who we belong to, a search for community; and on occasion it reads as a hunt for an unknown treasure that will give purpose to our lives. But in each of our stories, we know that there is something out there beyond what we see each day. We yearn for something greater. It calls us beyond our shores. It calls to the very depths of our souls.
Church? Sure, I’ve been to church. It’s full of religious people who want you to follow their rules, 24/7/365. Read the Bible, pray, fork over your money, don’t swear, drink, party or do anything fun. Rules, judgment, and lots of religious words like, “hallelujah, PTL, saved, redeemed, holy, holy, holy.” I’ve never met a group of more close-minded, straight -laced, literal thinkers before. Church was a total waste of time.
Steve – Age 40:
On the other hand, when I actually read about Jesus, the guy who is supposed to be behind the whole church thing, he doesn’t seem like he was into a lot of rules. He blew the minds of those religious leaders, breaking their laws left and right. He was a total rebel, eating with criminals and the IRS of the day. He cared about the out-and-out sinners, lepers, and other outcasts whom church people wouldn’t be caught dead with. Best of all, he truly invested in the lives of the people he met. He made a difference in the world.
I want that, to be a part of something bigger than myself. My life right now is focused on work. And whatever free time I have, I try to spend with my family. That’s all great, but is this it? Everyone else I know is wrapped up in the same routine. Is this really how we were meant to live?
It’s 9:00 at night and mom still isn’t back. I wish she didn’t have to work so much or so far away. I wish I had a dad who stuck around and took care of us. I wish, I wish, I wish….. A while back, Mom showed me pictures of herself in college. She was going to be an artist. She looked so young and had lots of friends. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that happy before. She doesn’t paint or draw anymore. She’s always worried about making enough money to pay for food and other things that we need. I know she loves me, but I want to spend more time with her. Every day is just the same… go to school, then hang out at the afterschool program while mom works, and then go home and watch TV till she gets back. I’m so lonely. … and I think she is too. Last night I heard her talking on the phone to her best friend in New York. She was crying and saying that she is so tired and that she needs help. She said she didn’t feel like she could keep doing this alone for much longer. God? Are you there? If you’re real and if you hear me, please help my mom and me. It’s pretty much just the two of us and we need someone, or a lot of someones, to help take care of us. If only grandma were here. If only we had real friends, not just those people mom parties with, but friends who will love us and be here for us whenever we need them. Even if all we need is a hug or some company. That would be great, God. Sometimes I just need to know that we’re not alone.
Katie – Age 8:
Can you believe it? Johnny, a partner at the firm, asked ME to be his date at the company party. I felt like a million bucks when I was on his arm. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me (and my new dress — totally worth it), like I was someone special, someone worth noticing. People who would barely acknowledge me at work actually stopped to talk with me.
Dawn – Age 23:
Not that Johnny really paid me much attention that night. He mostly talked about himself and all the cases he’s won. But hey, he’s a much better catch than all the other guys I’ve dated — losers mostly — no job, no ambition, just looking for a good time. I don’t know why I keep saying “yes” to guys like that. I always end up drinking too much, trying to stay happy and upbeat for them even when I’m hurting inside. I guess I want them to like me, even though I can’t really see them in my future. I don’t know what I want. All I know is that there’s an emptiness inside of me that all these dates, new clothes, and parties just aren’t filling up. Maybe I’m looking for the wrong thing. But if not the perfect man, then what should I be looking for?
Those first voyagers answered the call that resounded in their hearts. They shook off the dust of daily living and dared to believe that there was something more for their lives. God beckons to you and me in the same way today. He planted a sense of purpose in each of us, and He designed us to do good and great things in this world. But to reach that place where longing meets fulfillment, it takes courage and heart. The ocean is unpredictable and the journey can be rough, but we aren’t expected to go it alone. We paddle together with our crew through dysfunction, addiction, loneliness, fear, anger, and hopelessness that washes over us in waves and threatens to swamp our souls. And in the midst of those struggles, in the ebb and flow of lives, we discover who we are meant to be, and our crewmates become our ‘ohana.
Jesus took a similar voyage over 2,000 years ago. He understood that the longing of our hearts could not be filled by people or things, but only by His Father’s love, acceptance, and true ‘ohana. So He left the familiar shores of heaven to live among us, die for our sins, and rise again, revealing His power over life and death for anyone willing to follow after Him. At Voyage, we believe that God is calling us to boldly set out as a family that follows after Jesus. We see the new horizon and the new day ahead. We invite you to step into the canoe, raise the sails and pull together with us.