Thursday, January 6, 2011
It was a beautiful, warm, Indian Summer day in the Puget Sound Region. Judy and I - novice boaters to say the least - decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather. We hopped in the car and drove down to the Des Moines marina where we kept our first boat. We named her the DAWN TREADER from the children's books by CS Lewis. We loved that little 25 foot Bayliner Cierra. Like the Dawn Treader she was not as big as other ships but she was well cared for and every "spar and mast" lovingly preserved.
Off we went. Our departures and landings during those early days of boating were never things of beauty. If you've never run a power boat, they don't handle like cars. The steering is not as responsive and there are no brakes. There were times when we felt we should have called her the "STEER CLEAR" or, at least, have posted a sign like the ones on driving school cars: CAUTION! STUDENT BOATER.
But we made it safely out the fairway separating the docks, past the rock-walled jetty and public dock and out toward the buoy marking the shipping channel. Carefree, wind blowing through our hair, amazed to see seals, dahl's porpoises and all manner of birds. The calming effect of the gentle waves, the relative sparsity of any other boats, and the quiet soothing sounds of smooth jazz playing over our stereo system made it a morning to remember. We headed south west toward Pt. Defiance and the Clay banks. Then, turning south we went underneath the Tacoma Narrows bridge for the very first time, further south past Fox and McNeil Islands and finally west and south past Anderson Island and around the southern point of the Key Peninsula. We were exploring yet undiscovered sights (at least for us)and we couldn't have been happier or more at peace.
Once we rounded the point, we headed north to JOEMMA STATE PARK where we docked our boat, walked up the dock to use the public facilities, hike around a little and enjoy the view from a different perspective. Then we returned to the boat for a simple meal of fruit, crackers, cheese and sausage (I think there may have been a glass of wine involved as well).
It had been a glorious day. We were absolutely floating with a sense of unbridled amazement, wonder and joy. We hated to head back to home port but we both had things to do the next day so off we went - retracing the dotted path indicated by our GPS.
All was serene. All was calm. Weather continued to be great....great that is, until we rounded the point at the Clay Banks - leaving the Tacoma Narrows and heading back NE to Des Moines. Without warning (at least to novices like us) a strong wind of 25 - 30 kts had begun to blow out of the Northeast. Combined with the changing tide, the waves were beginning to pile up in short distances and some of them were at least 20 feet high ----ummmm, maybe 2 - 3 feet high.
We were being bounced around like a cork in our little boat but we pressed onward. As the boat crested each oncoming wave, then smacked bow first into the next, chilling sprays of foam and sea water cascaded over the deck, and, some even splashed up over the flying helm.
Well, we got back in safely but we were tense, probably a little irritable, and certainly glad to be back in our own slip, in a protected marina, and making preparations to head back to Enumclaw.
A few days later, our back sides (you know what I mean) were stiff and sore as though we had been through a rigorous workout. We couldn't understand that until we realized we had been so tense on the way in that day, we had clenched those gluteous maximus muscles so tightly and for so long, we were paying the consequences.
Sometimes in life, we sail along in calm waters, enjoying life and all the things along the way each day. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, we turn a corner, begin a new day, hear some bit of news, and we are tossed in the maelstrom of s storm. All we can do is hang on tight. And trust that the boat will get us safely through.
Such a storm has hit once again in our lives and the life of our church and the fear is that it could threaten to undo us. My advice is, hang on tight, but trust your charts, your GPS and the ship you are sailing in.
When I was a kid our church used to sing a little chorus called "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me." I never much liked it. I did, however, find myself drawn to a painting that hung in the church parlor. Unlike many paintings of Jesus that depict him as ashy-faced, silky-haired, blue-eyed, and rather weak, almost effeminate features, this one showed a rugged Jesus. He stood firmly and strongly behind a young man whose eyes depicted fear and uncertainty. The man was standing at the wheel of a boat obviously trying to steer through a gale. That picture has stayed with me - not just because of some of our boating experiences but because everytime I have needed to depend on the Lord's strength in life's storms, he has been there - calmly and surely holding me up and guiding the way.
That is also why one of my favorite stories in the Gospels is of Jesus out on the Sea of Galilee, asleep in the bow when the disciples fishing boat begins to toss violently in a sudden storm. Afraid, they cry out to Jesus and ask, "Don't you care that we are about to die?" Calmly Jesus simply speaks to the wind and the waves and says "PEACE! BE STILL!" Immediately the wind and the waves and even the disciple's anxious hearts are stilled. They are amazed. They are filled with wonder. They are stunned. But they are reassured.
Be assured that in this storm, Jesus is in the boat with us. The wind and the waves that threaten to sink us are under his control. He lovingly, calmly and strongly will stand with us and guide us - all of us - every single one of us - through this storm.
PEACE! BE STILL!