Mom never sailed the ocean blue and she never dreamed of discovering sea legs. So, it fell to my father and I to brave the high seas on an adventure that would have left mom blue lipped and dismayed with a general wringing of the hands and the intentional gathering of her collective wit.
This is the way of it.
My dad and I left the comfort of terra firma, walking a thin plank leading to a famed vessel locals referred to as Stinky Ruby. Ruby had a barnacle encrusted hull which may have been the formula for keeping the old girl together.
We waved our goodbyes to Mom as the motor coughed and sputtered. With the safety of the pier behind us we dodged rogue gulls insisting on a handout. They screeched at us long after land was tucked somewhere beyond the horizon.
When the motor stopped, the wake behind us collapsed in on itself until we were basically the equivalent of a large rusty bobber. The boat rolled and pitched in the swell. Fishing lines had been dropped and we watched as the waves caused us to see phantom catches. No fish were on the line, but every pole bowed to the strength of the waves. Back and forth, over and over again we ambled on. I suddenly understood the disciples urge to ask Jesus for help. A simple, “Peace be still,” would have been great.
I was just about to beheave myself when one of the crewmen pointed to my pole and helped me get set to reel in the biggest fish I had ever seen up close and personal. The crew treated me like royalty and I watched as they drug the hapless salmon onto the deck. They tagged the catch and placed it in the hold.
The line was replenished with a disgusting bit of salmon snack food from the chum bucket and placed back in the dark waters. Feeling better, I watched and waited for the pole to bend precariously. Many other shipmates reeled in fish before my pole bent southward. Once more I reeled and a flapping salmon soon accosted the deck. My dad cheered and I was feeling just a bit arrogant in my newfound fishing skills.
Time passed and my dad caught his limit. It seemed like he couldn’t keep them off his line while I waited for a third fish to make voluntary dinner reservations. The pole kept time with the waves. I began to pray and bargain with God; something about wanting to feed five thousand with my three fish, all He had to do is bring the bread. Still my pole only danced with the ocean swell mocking my ‘Christian’ determination.
Suddenly, the queasiness I had experienced earlier came back with alarming vengeance. Fortunately just as I was about to make my own contribution to the chum bucket, my pole bent again. In the final moments before the triumphant return from our first sea voyage I captured my final prey. Oh, he fought valiantly, yet in the end he wound up in a blue-labeled can suitable for long term transport and storage.
This was not the first expedition we took in search of salmon. It was, however, the one trip in which I prospered most in the fickle art of fishing. What more did I need to prove on the three subsequent trips? As it turns out, I proved absolutely nothing - and I proved it very well.
Mom would be waiting at the motel wondering what possessed her men to venture out into the great blue in search of fish. She had heard stories and they were magnified in her fertile imaginings. We were relegated to a watery grave by the fins and teeth of unsightly creatures of the deep. She had heard the story of Jonah enough to know that there were creatures the size of a large Buick® in the sea that had an appetite for wayward believers.
While we did see a shark, and a few fish were pretty violent, we did make it back to the shore aboard Stinky Ruby. It was a year before Mom’s nervous tic went away.
Mom was not the only one who has ever waited on someone. God has His eye on you and His greatest desire is for you to come home. “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome” (Ephesians 3:12 - NLT).
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