It was a hideous channel crossing from Poole to Jersey early this morning. The middle of the English Channel was up and down, and the Condor Vitesse ferry was rocking and rolling. People were chundering everywhere. Kids were crying. I saw grown men turned to weaklings, down on their knees with sick bag in hand. My son Luke was sick six times. One woman threw up all over the wall behind me. People were outside on the deck trying to get fresh air but it was hard to hold on as the ship rolled from side to side. I was out there for over an hour trying to keep it down but after that I was asked by a polite steward, along with everyone else out there, to move back inside, as the deck was so bad they had to hose it down. Nice. Actually – no. It was not nice. It was like a vomitorium.

Katie, my heavily pregnancy sister-in-law was turned away at the dockside. The captain wouldn’t let her sail due to the state of the sea. She was confused and terribly disappointed, until I called her on arrival to tell her what she’d missed! She’s now caught a plane instead and has just arrived. She was spared!

Why do I tell you this? Because to me, that journey was a bit like life. Sometimes life is just pukey. You expect things to be smooth and nice (which is how the Poole to Jersey sailing normally is) but then all of a sudden you get a right load of vomit coming your way. It seems unfair. But there’s little you can do. You’re stuck in the middle and you’re praying and doing the best you can. When life is like that, don’t forget – you will get through. It won’t last forever. As St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 God ‘will never let you be tested beyond what you can bear.’

When life is rough, what should we do? We could manage on our own, but when things are bad we need people around us who can help. That’s when God’s family are particularly important. People who’ve been there before and understand what to do. On board the ferry that was the stewards. They knew what to do. They hosed the decks. They washed away the mess so we could continue the journey and reach the destination. In your life, that could be people in your Belfrey Group or an older, wiser follower of Jesus, who’s lived life and understands it’s not all plain sailing. Like the stewards at work this morning, they need to be people who know how to tap into the free-flowing grace of Christ. Because only the grace of Christ has the cleansing power to truly hose down the decks of your life.