The Pelicano was once the most unwanted ship in the world. For over two years it floated on the open seas. It could be called a Flying Dutchman of the 20th century. No port would accept it.
The massive ship was turned away from at least eleven countries including Honduras, Costa Rica, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and the Bahamas. It wandered the Caribbean, went to West Africa, sailed the Mediterranean and roamed the Indian Ocean. It was only allowed to dock long enough to refuel and then go back to sea again. During those years, the Pelicano changed names two times and owners once.
The reason for the wide scale rejection of the Pelicano is because in 1986, the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, didn’t have much brotherly love at all. The sanitation workers said they didn’t feel that love, so to speak, from the city that managed them. So they went on strike for almost an entire month.
A lot of trash can accumulate in a month in a city the size of Philadelphia. At first they tried to ship their trash to Ohio and Georgia. But the states refused to accept it. What Philadelphia ended up doing was incinerating their trash into 28 million pounds of scrap and ash, and dumping it into the belly of a ship later called the Pelicano.
The Pelicano became an infamous floating garbage dump with megatons of rotting trash containing toxic elements from arsenic to lead. No nation around the entire world wanted the Pelicano anywhere near them. It had a cargo of trash that it couldn’t get rid of.
Life has a way of unloading its junk on us, too, sometimes. Due to our sins, circumstances and also because of things others have done to us either intentionally or unintentionally, we get burdened under the weight of trash.
In fact, over time this trash becomes downright toxic. It produces the fumes of anger, guilt, pessimism, fear and bitterness. So we end up floating from one person to another person, or from one situation to another situation, only to discover that we get to hang around long enough to get some fuel, but no longer than that. No one wants our trash.
If weary describes you then I have good news for you. Because Jesus says that He offers freedom from what weighs you down. This freedom comes through one of the greatest words in the Scripture: Rest.
Jesus says that He has come to give you rest. He gives you a place to dock. He gives you a way to be rid of your trash. He gives you not only a rest in Heaven but also an ongoing rest while on earth. He says, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest… Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jesus tells us that we can replace our trash with His yoke. He says that if we yoke up with Him and learn from Him, we will find the rest that we so desperately crave. We will find the freedom that we need.
No one knows exactly where the Pelicano is today. The story is that the ship which sailed around the world in search of a place to unload Philadelphia’s garbage eventually retired.
Like many ships of its size, once it had served its time, the Pelicano was most likely recycled into scrap metal. Pieces of its hull might be found in a car carrying a family around India today. Fragments of its deck might make up the shell of a tractor plowing a field of corn in Ohio. Portions of its bow might be in a schoolchild’s desk in New Jersey. Or sections of its bulwark might be part of a bridge over a bay.
Wherever the Pelicano is, it no longer carries its burden. And because of that, it is free to be more than anyone ever imagined it could be, and so can you.