To travel. To wander. To journey.
August 19, 2022
A Look Back – Who Were They?
It would be a 66-day journey across 3,000 miles of open ocean. The ship was called the Mayflower. A ship that was 106 feet long, 25-feet wide, with four decks and six sails. It was primarily used to carry cargo --not passengers.
On this voyage, 102 passengers walked onto the ship, along with a crew of 37 (only about 40 in the group were seeking religious freedom) and set sail from Plymouth England to America on September 6, 1620. Their journey to America had already been delayed by about two months due to unforeseen circumstances, so they ended up setting sail during the height of storm season. Not the best time to sail.
Historical records provide a glimpse into this less-than Carnival-like cruise ship experience. One hundred two passengers made up of mostly men, with a few dozen women, and about a dozen children, were placed below deck that had a living space that measured 58 feet by 24 feet. No windows! No privacy! It was their living, eating, and bathroom area all in one. The seas were often so rough that it wasn’t safe to venture to the top deck in fear of being accidently swept overboard. Thus, they were often not able to venture beyond this space. Surprisingly with the conditions met, there was only one death.
It was doubtful they knew what experiences lay ahead of them. One must wonder if they ever set foot on a ship before this time. There was no Google to find out any details. The close quarters, the smell, the cold, the dampness, the bobbing up and down of the ship, the sea sickness, the limited food options - - that alone would deter most people. But they had a desire that was strong and ran deep. It was the desire for freedom and a new life. A freedom to practice their Protestant faith without being persecuted by the Church of England. A risk worth taking.
Fast Forward to Present Day
It has been estimated that about 3% of the United States population have ancestors that date back to the Mayflower. Some were sitting United States Presidents, there was the famous chef, Julia Child, the famous artist, Norman Rockwell, and the famous actor, Humphrey Bogart. Interestingly enough, Bogart's ancestor almost got swept overboard into the raging sea, and only by a miracle did he grab onto a nearby rope and was pulled to safety as he was about to be swept overboard. Close call, but not the destiny for him that day.
While we often think the term “Pilgrim” brings thoughts to the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving in America, the term is still applicable to today. Both to ourselves and to the ones that have come before us so long ago.
We Are Still Pilgrims
Not unlike those passengers aboard that 1620 journey, we, too, have a deep desire to know the truth and to live in perfect freedom without being persecuted for it. We seek truth, are driven to share that truth, and live that truth. That is our journey at our present address called planet Earth.
We may not be trying to discover another land and create a new colony. However, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we are just passing through this sin-filled world. (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 13:14, the journey of Abraham, and the journey of Joseph to Egypt). And while we are here, we must make the most of it.
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God.” (Isaiah 43:2)
We will experience hardship. We were told we would. We will have to walk through the water, rivers, and the fires that to us seems most difficult and often harsh. But it is through those trials that we find ourselves - - how God uses those experiences to strengthen us, how we learn to engage with others, and how that experience brings us closer to Him.
As difficult as the journey was for those passengers, we, too, have a difficult road. But the ties that bind us to that small group, and to those biblical figures from our past, is that we desire to seek God, we desire to seek the truth, and desire to share that truth with others despite the circumstances that lay before us. We want the freedom to do this - - still.
As we press onward in our earthly journey here to our heavenly home, we are driven forward against all odds and know that it is a risk worth taking.