Joy rides are usually exciting events.   New sights and new horizons open up a brand new world.   Whether you go by train, bus, car, plane or by boat, a few hours of transportation can change your entire outlook.   Speedy travel soon turns the treeless prairies into the rugged panorama of snow-capped mountains.   It exchanges the sound of the wind rustling the grass for the awesome noise of cataracts tumultuously surging through rocky gorges as the water swirls to the sea.   Travel acquaints you with the forest abounding with wild animals or it brings you to beautiful lakes teeming with fish.   Travel transplants you by the seaside where the might ocean tides ceaselessly beat upon the rock-ribbed coastlines and pleasant beaches.    How could anyone possibly ruin a joy ride?   Let’s interview Captain Bishop as he relates his experience.
Captain Bishop began his career on the Sea of Life by operating small craft around the more sheltered coves and inlets.   His ferry carried a constant stream of passengers from Pillar to Post across a troublesome stretch of water that separated these two neighboring ports.   He was well equipped to sail the Sea of Life, but he lacked any incentive to sail from shore without a purposeful destination.   One day he was startled to hear an SOS crackle over the air waves from the liner Doldrums, which was lying at anchor not far from the Financial Rocks.   Its Captain, Pat Knumbskull had been given quite a beating by several of the passengers the night before, so he deserted the ship without warning.   The desperate nature of their plight was further accentuated by a weather forecast of a gathering storm, which might drive them on the rocks, which were the graveyard of many a similar vessel before.   Captain Bishop answered the call and was soon installed with a good guaranteed salary and strict orders to transport all the passengers safely to Celestial Harbor.   The Bishop was delighted with the honor and devoted himself without delay to his task.
Captain Bishop soon discovered that the passengers owned the Doldrums, which was a semi-luxury liner.   He found it well stocked with provisions and plenty of amusements for relaxation and leisure.   Although there were life boats, he could see they had never been used.   The passengers on the Doldrums had never launched a life-boat nor rescued anyone from drowning.   After buying the boat and hiring the Captain they felt their duty was done.
When Captain Bishop became hungry, he went to the kitchen to see how things were progressing…only to discover that the passengers had counted on him to make the meals and serve them in the dining salon.   During a minor storm the Captain became aware that the ship was slowing down noticeably, so he went to the engine room to investigate.   Only then did he discover that the passengers had not provided any engine crew, for they expected him to fire the boilers.   Needless to say, when the Captain finished this chore, they were considerably off course and they suffered great loss of time, from going in circles.   The passengers were somewhat indignant over the Captain’s inability to cope with the problem.
Complaints began to multiply because it was felt that Captain Bishop didn’t spend enough time visiting with the passengers and praying for those who got seasick.   Mr. Noah Count complained that the boat had been on the high seas for two months and the Captain had not even visited him yet.   Bill Payer was furious because the only time the Captain spoke to him was to thank him for his check.   The Doldrums passed a small boat, which had capsized…with the loss of all hands, but by the time Captain Bishop heard of the disaster it was too late to throw a life line or launch a lifeboat.   Some passengers witnessed the tragedy, but they said, “They knew that would happen to them, and it served them right.”   Captain Bishop began to have apprehensions!  However, he resolved to do a better job or die in the attempt.  He almost died!
Some of the passengers noticed that their Captain was looking pale and haggard as he served the meals from the kitchen.   One remarked that the food wasn’t as good as it used to be.   Another remarked that they had been on the Joy Ride for a year and could still see the Financial Rocks---how long will it take to reach the Celestial Harbor at this rate?   There were complaints of incompetence.   A suggestion was made that they steer a course toward Port Weary and try to hire a new Captain because it was plain they weren’t getting any place.   Captain Bishop was aware that a storm was brewing, which amounted to mutiny, and that stern action must be resolutely taken to save the ship.   He must put more men to work or ruin the joy ride.   If he continued to do everything himself they would never get off the rocks.   He dropped anchor and was surprised to find the water so shallow.   One more storm---and the rocks!   Something had to be done at once.
Captain Bishop called a council of his most trusted advisors.   He reviewed the ship’s log with them, concealing nothing and blaming no one.   He said, “Our bills are paid, our provisions are adequate and we’re seaworthy.   But we have rescued no one and have never even used the lifeboats.   Do you want me to keep on oiling the machinery and serving the meals or do you want me to stay by the rudder and keep our course on the fixed stars?   Perhaps we’re doing well, but do you think we’re doing well enough?”   After a pause, Phil Gayball quipped, “No runs, no hits; no errors.”   “And nobody left on,” said the Captain in self censure.
“I have a plan and I know it will succeed, if you will accept it.   I will turn all my passengers into crew members.   I’ll handle the rudder, but Mr. Trusty will be expected to keep the machinery oiled and oversee the engine room.   Bill Payer will present a chart to ensure our reaching the sound Budget so there’s no danger of being wreaked on the reef of Financial Rocks.   A standing committee will plan the social contacts and report on seasickness.   Deacon Wright Hand will take over rescue operations and train a crew to man the lifeboats.   Miss Nimble will take care of correspondence, while Miss Treble will look after music and entertainment.   We’ll put Benny Fitz in charge of the youth program to provide training for them on the Sea of Life.   Let’s see now?   Oh yes, Noah Count, where is he?” asked the Captain.  “Oh, he left the ship back a ways.   He didn’t like the new discipline,” volunteered someone.   “I hadn’t missed him,” said the Captain with a wry smile.  “Now, for action...!”
Although some of the men shook their heads, the majority began to roll up their sleeves.   A few complained that because they paid the Captain their fare it was not right to expect them to work, besides.   But almost all agreed that the fare only covered the cost of their transit.   There was still the infinite obligation, incurred in their own rescue.   If their lack of willingness to help would cause the ship to founder, they would all suffer in the loss.   Slowly the Doldrums became a hive of activity.   The passengers began to praise their Captain for his courageous leadership and suggested that he should be made an Admiral.   This new surge of purpose, changed the entire outlook.   The harbor of Celestial City was more than a hazy dream or a pious hope.   It was HOME.
The Doldrums could be any church and Captain Bishop could be anyone of thousands of frustrated preachers trying to “do it all.”   The difference between success and failure is often a very fine line.   Good preachers can’t be bought.   More often they’re made rather then hired.   Good congregations are more often the fruit of being matured into working fellowships rather then the outgrowth of a parade of capable speakers.   The Doldrums has changed its name to the Bluesky, because it is conscious of limitless possibilities.   Its lifeboats are often in use   its luxury equipment has been replaced by an arsenal of life saving devices and the hospital and nursery look more like an armory.   Captain Bishop works as hard as ever, but he is relaxed and confident.   He no longer refers to his crew as passengers---that almost ruined the joy ride, in fact, it almost wreaked the boat.   Now, they’re members of the crew working WITH their Captain.   The Bluesky is embarked on a Joy Ride.   It has an appointment with Destiny.



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