I discovered the following article when I was searching for a good illustration for our “All Hands on Deck” Day.  I was touched by the thoughts expressed but did not use it for that Sunday.  Today, I want to share it will you verbatim. I’m not sure who put this on the internet, but it is from the experiences of a man named Bob Goff, “It’s the Journey that Makes Coming Home Sweet”, Donald Miller blog (3-19-12).

Bob Goff had a dream to sail across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.  So Bob and four of his buddies entered the Transpac Race, a semi-annual sailboat race from Los Angeles to Hawaii.  With limited sailing skills, Bob and his friends loaded their thirty-five foot sailboat with canned chili and bottled water and set sail for Hawaii.  But for Bob and his friends, the most moving part of the journey was the arrival at the finish line.  Bob writes, “There’s a tradition in the Transpac Race no matter when you finish the race, even if it’s two in the morning.  When you pull into the Ala Moana Marina in Oahu, there’s a guy who announces the name of the boat and every crew member who made the trip…It’s the same guy, and he’s been announcing each boat’s arrival at the end of every Transpac Race for decades.”

“Just when we came to the end of our supplies, we sailed across the finish line just off Diamond Head and into the marina. It was a few hours before dawn.  It had been sixteen days since we set out from Los Angeles in our little boat knowing very little about navigation.  Suddenly, the silence was broken by a booming voice over a loudspeaker announcing the name of our tiny boat…Then he started announcing the names of our ragtag crew like he was introducing heads of state.  One by one he announced all of our names with obvious pride in his voice, and it became a really emotional moment for each of us onboard.

“When he came to my name, he didn’t talk about how few navigation skills I had or the zigzag course I’d led us in to get there.  He didn’t tell everyone I didn’t know which way north was or about all my other mess-ups.  Instead, he just welcomed me in from the adventure like a proud father would.  When he was done, there was a pause and then in a sincere voice his last word to the entire crew were: ‘Friends, it’s been a long trip.  Welcome home.’ Because of the way he said it, we all welled up and fought back tears.  I wiped my eyes as I reflected in that moment about all the uncertainty that had come with the journey, all the sloppy sailing and how little I knew.  But none of that mattered now because we had completed the race.”

“I always thought that heaven might be kind of a similar experience…After we each cross the finish line in our lives, I imagine it will be like floating into the Hawaiian marina when our names were announced one by one.  At the end of our lives, after our many mistakes and midcourse corrections, our loving Heavenly Father will simply say, ‘Friends, it’s been a long trip. Welcome home.’”

Hebrews 12:1-2, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” And 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.”

Let’s all meet at the heavenly finish line when our race is over!  Tom