When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Acts 27:13-15, 27-32 (NIV)
I got off work at Noon today and asked youngest son what he wanted to do. Paddling on the Little Manatee River was his choice. At first, I hesitated. Storm clouds rolled in this morning, and the forecast called for thunderstorms. By the time I got off work, however, the rain was over and patches of blue shone through the grey clouds so we loaded up the kayaks and headed to the river. I have been to that state park many times, but never on the river. I did not know what it was like. The water was far below the dock so we had to launch the kayaks and then, lower ourselves about three feet into the boat. I was sure that I was in for a soaking, but managed to get in without tipping over. My son has two kayaks, and I use the one he purchased first. We call it the butter tub because it is round and made of thick plastic. You have to work hard to sink it, but you also work hard to paddle it. We discovered that the Little Manatee, unlike our beloved Rainbow River, is wild and lonely. The water is shallow in some places with a lot of downed logs to snag your boat. The trees hang low over the water. It is tricky navigating under and around them. Perhaps it was because the day was overcast, but we could not see much below the dark water’s surface. At first, we just floated along. I was finally getting the hang of paddling after youngest instructed me to twist my torso when I paddled instead of only using my shoulders. We were enjoying the scenery even though I saw an imaginary alligator around every bend. The water was cool and nothing smells better than a river. Then, we heard a motor coming up quickly behind us. Two jet skis rounded the bend and we barely had enough time to get to the side of the river before they dashed past us. The wake thrust my boat onto a sand bar. Because I could not bob up and down on the surface, water rushed over me and into the boat. I was soaked and sat in several inches of water. It made me think of how life can be. Sometimes, we are just cruising along, everything is calm and then, bam, out of the blue, trouble arrives. I love this story about Paul because it reminds me that everyone faces storms in this life. Paul also reminds me that I must stay with the ship or remain close to God even when I am afraid that it will sink. God will not fail me, but so often, I put my trust in other things. People, money, job, education, talent, insurance. All of those can disappoint me, but God will not. As we enter a new year, take a look at what you are clinging to. Let it be God. Only He will save.