So I like to read to my four year old daughter before she goes to bed. Recently I got in the habit of making up stories for her on the spot. This weekend she asked if I would "tell" her a story, not simply read one from a book. So this is what came out. Afterward I wrote it down to post today. I have not tried to clean it up, expand it, or improve it at all. But this is the story I told her.
Once upon a time there was a very old, very large ship that sailed the oceans of the world. This ship was filled with treasure, and populated with very gifted people, called "Mariners." For example, they had doctors to care for the sick, and teachers to educate the children. The people had been on this ship for many generations, and most of them had never set foot on land.
In fact, although they sailed all over the world, they had little contact with the people on land. The only time they interacted with the "Landers" was when they needed to trade for some supplies. This was done quickly, and only by a few of the leaders. By the time this story takes place, no one really remembers why they live on this ship. But this is their life. It is all they know.
One day a little girl named Katherine, a daughter of the Captain of the ship, asked her father why they were on this boat. How long had they all been sailing? Her father could not remember how long, but he had been on the ship for as long has he could remember, and knew his grandparents had lived on the ship as well. He couldn't really remember why they were always sailing, only that this was their way of life. He explained to his daughter that the boat's purpose was to provide protection from the danger of the land and the Landers. On board they were safe, and had everything they needed.
One day when the ship was briefly docked, so the Captain and a couple of other men could trade with the Landers, Katherine noticed the poverty and sickness of the landers. Instead of being scared, she was heartbroken. Later that night, as they we sailing away from the land Katherine asked her father why they didn't get off the boat. "Why don't we make friends with those people? Isn't there a way we can help them?" But her father told her that the Landers were dangerous. Some of them are violent, some are sick and contagious, others are bad people who could lure the Mariners to leave the boat and live on land. That night Katherine went to bed, and prayed that God would give her and her father wisdom. She felt like there was something they should do.
The next morning Katherine was playing below deck and found an old, dirty, moldy trunk. It was shoved in the very back of the boat, and was covered with a tarp. Her curiosity got the best of her and she pulled off the dirty, brown and orange cloth. As she played with the rusty lock on the trunk it crumbled in her hands, and she was able to open it up. Inside she found an old book that was a warped, water damaged and brittle. It was hard to read, but she could make out the words, and she began to read. What she discovered was that it was the ship's first "log." This was a book that recorded the beginning of their journey, the places they traveled, and the things they did. Katherine read that the Mariners were originally Landers whose King had sent them on this ship to sail around the world caring for other Landers, sharing their wealth, helping the poor, healing the sick, in order to show the greatness, and the goodness of their King and his kingdom.
Katherine wrapped up the book in the tarp and ran with it to her Father. After pleading with him for what seemed like a long time, he finally agreed to sit with her and look at this old book. As the captain read what his daughter read, his eyes filled with tears and he bgean to remember some of the stories his Grandfather used to tell him. "This is a missionary vessel." he said. He cried for a while, and then he prayed with his daughter. After a while he got up and called everyone to the deck of the ship.
Once everyone was together he read the log to the people, and they began to understand, some of them for the first time, why they sailed the world. It was not to avoid land, and Landers, but to see as many as possible to serve them in the name of their King. The whole ship spent that night praying to God, confessing their sin and ignorance. In the morning, they all agreed to set sail for the land they had most recently left to show the Landers the goodness of their King. This is exactly what they did.
From that day on the Mariners sailed the world, not to avoid land, and some of the dangers that were there, but to walk among the Landers - befriending them, serving them, helping them - in the name of the King and Kingdom they are from.