Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

The Captain, a Cruise Ship, and a Mutiny

The captain

Imagine a boat captain who buys a beautiful cruise ship with state-of-the art equipment, luxurious state rooms, an Olympic sized pool, and a gleaming gym.

He hires a top-of-the-line crew, including 5-star chefs, and stocks the galley with the best wines, filet mignon, carne asada burritos — you get the idea.

And then he invites all of us on an all-expenses-paid cruise to the Bahamas.

So there we are — on a cruise ship we didn’t pay for, eating food we didn’t buy, enjoying this cruise as a free gift.

That’s what God has done in creating us, giving us life, and giving us Himself.


But as we set out for the Bahamas — we suddenly feel a dark, ugly passion rising up in us.

We want to be in charge.

We want to call the shots.  We want to chart the course.  We want to run the ship.

And so late one night we sneak to the captain’s quarters, and break down the door.

We rush into his room, grab him, take him outside and throw him overboard.

We mutiny.

That’s what we have all done — knowingly rebelled against our Creator.


But let’s say the Navy Seals rescue the captain, track down the ship, climb on board, and arrest all of us mutineers.

We are taken to the nearest country where we are tried and condemned to 20 years in prison.

We all face God’s punishment for our rebellion.

But this country has an unusual law for mutineers — a law of substitution.

If the captain and his son agree, the son can serve the 20 years in prison in the place of any mutineer who —

  • confesses to the crime,
  • is willing to go back on the cruise ship,
  • commits to trusting the captain and enjoying all the benefits the captain provides.

Grace and mercy

The captain and his son agree to the substitution.

The son is taken away to serve the 20 years — and the mutineers know they can now be freed.

But tragically, many of the mutineers are still ruled by that dark, ugly passion.  They decide that being in control of their own lives is better than submission to the captain — even if their lives are in prison.

But when the rest of the mutineers hear what the captain and his son have chosen to do — they rejoice.  They humbly confess to the crime, get back on the cruise ship, and commit to trusting the captain and enjoying all his benefits.

Some takeaways from this illustration

Feel how God’s act of creating you displays Him as perfectly loving and flawlessly good — perfectly trustworthy.  Let this stir gratitude and deep worship.

See that your sin was not isolated actions — it was a mindset of mutiny against a perfectly loving and flawlessly good God.  Let this profoundly humble you.

Be gripped by the free, undeserved mercy of the Father and the Son in saving you through the Cross.  Truly, we deserved infinite punishment.  But the Father and the Son chose to have Jesus suffer this infinite punishment in our place.

Let this love and grace stir you all the more to trust all that God promises to be to you in Christ Jesus —

  • Are you tempted?  He will give you grace to overcome (1Cor 10:13).
  • Are you fearful?  He is sovereign over everything in your future — and flawlessly good (Jer 29:11).
  • Are you doubting?  He will strengthen your unbelief through prayer and His word (Mark 9:24; Rom 10:17).
  • Are you confused?  He will give you wisdom (James 1:5).
  • Are you empty?  He will give you fill you with His presence as you come to Him in faith (John 6:35).
  • Are you numb?  He will soften your heart by the power of the Spirit (Eze 36:26).
  • Are you bitter?  Whatever has happened was meant by God to bring you great good (Gen 50:20).
  • Are you guilty with sin?  Because of His death, as you confess He will assure you of complete forgiveness (Rom 4:7-8).

How does this illustration impact you?

I’d love to hear — leave a comment in the box below.  Thanks.

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(Picture by ngould on everystockphoto.)

Category: God's Promises, Strengthening Your Faith


4 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    What causes us to even be more amazed is the fact that those who take up the offer to be set free, were chosen by the Captain before the cruise began!

    I had to throw in a little reformed theology in there 🙂

  2. Katherine F. says:

    What a crazy story. Who would be that selfless and generous and altruistic and consumed with love? Unheard of. Oh wait, Jesus is.

    I think the Garden of Eden must have been a lot like the cruise ship you describe. People’s lives these days mostly don’t look like that. Comes from throwing the captain overboard, I guess, and all the repercussions through the ages. Sad.

    Thanks for this amazing story of love way beyond compare. I would say insane love, but I guess He’s the only truly sane One.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s always a joy to hear from you, Katherine. And I’m so glad this story struck a chord with you. Thanks for letting me know.

      I love how you describe God’s loves — “love way beyond compare.” Beautiful.

      Thanks — and love to everyone there.


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