An Epic Journey

I started to write you last night and gave up.  We took a day-trip to Hatteras and Ocracoke yesterday, and I was weary afterwards to say the least.  The thing about a journey to Ocracoke, at least for us, is that it is not about anything we want to see in Ocracoke – at least not this time.  There are sights to see there, and some people like it very much.  For us, however, the point of going is the journey down Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Let me show you.

Hatteras Light may be the most famous lighthouse in America.  You may remember that this was the lighthouse that was moved a decade ago because erosion threatened to pull it into the sea.  According to Wikipedia, Hatteras Light is over 200 feet high and contains over a million bricks.  So, Hatteras Light is doubly famous, both as a historical landmark and as one of the engineering marvels of our age.

Hatteras Village features one attraction that I had not yet seen because it has never been open when I’ve been there.  The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum features items recovered from shipwrecks in the area, and there have been a lot of shipwrecks in the Outer Banks.

As a friend of mine says, that is some “fierce” water.  The U.S.S. Monitor sank off Hatteras, and  Blackbeard ran his ship aground not far from here.  The museum actually has items recovered from The Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s ship, including pieces of gold dust.  Did I take pictures of these things?  Why no, my camera batteries died while we were going through the exhibits and the gift shop didn’t carry extras.  Didn’t I have extras?  Yes, they were in my suitcase back in the hotel.  Where else would they be?

After the museum, we got in line for the ferry to Ocracoke.  Unfortunately for us, the traffic was heavier than they were expecting for this time of year, so we ended up waiting for two hours.  We seriously considered going back, but the ferry ride to Ocracoke is a thing not to be missed.  It is an attraction in its own right.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the trip TO Ocracoke because I still had no camera batteries.

I did get this picture in the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.  The sign above doesn’t say what happened to this guy, but I think he was stuck too long at the ferry:

We didn’t get to Ocracoke until around 5:00, and guess what I did.  I bought batteries.  And then we started back because we needed to get home for dinner.  Yes, I know.  I went all the way there, and I didn’t even look around.  But, you see, I’ve been to the Ocracoke sights, and if I had wanted to spend the day shopping, I could have done that in Nags Head.  The point was the trip itself, and the incredibly beautiful scenery of the Hatteras coastline.  We did stop to see the famous Ocracoke ponies, on our way back to the ferry.  They are from a wild herd of mustangs that are, best guess, the survivors of some early shipwreck during the age of exploration.  The ponies survived on the island and bred, and here is one of their descendents:

On the ferry, coming back:

The pelicans absolutely love the ferry because passengers feed them, both at the landing and on the boat.  One of the seabirds seemed to consider himself a kind of mascot:

Move over bald eagle!

Aside from our traveling companions, the sea and sky were late afternoon gorgeous:

We passed another ferry going the other way:

As I said, the point was the journey, not the destination, and it is worth remembering that life works the same way.  Of course, we all want to go to heaven, and I plan to stay there a lot longer than I stayed at Ocracoke.  Sometimes, though, we place so much emphasis on eternity that we forget that the journey itself has value and meaning.  This is why the idea that all roads lead to God is so terribly wrong.  God is above all else concerned with HOW we get to him.  Isaiah 53:6 defines sin as all we like sheep going astray – going our own way.  If that is how we got lost from God in the first place, how in the world will doing the same thing save us?

The Outer Banks are a narrow string of islands, and there is only room for one highway.   There is one road from Nags Head to Hatteras, and turning off to the side will only get you stuck in some deep sand.  Likewise, Jesus said that the road to salvation is a narrow one and straight.  It leaves us no room to invent some new method of reaching heaven.  The journey to God through Christ is itself the thing that matters.

“. . .Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:9-11 (ESV)

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