Once upon a time a family embarked on their first vacation that was not directly connected to ministry. This is significant because they found themselves in the middle of a huge lake on a 75’ houseboat with six bedrooms; three bathrooms and a massive open kitchen/dining/living room, a Jacuzzi, and water slide on the second story! The amenities are mentioned here because this family was flabbergasted at the comfort and convenience. They could have moved in permanently!
We are that family and this houseboat was perfect for all of us!
We had arrived the evening before and boarded just in time to load our things and find a place to fall asleep. Some slept on the upstairs deck watching shooting stars, while others found comfy bedrooms. Early the next morning, we headed out onto the lake.
Ralph, my husband, Philip, my son-in-law, and I took the houseboat and everyone else loaded into the Ski boat to find a place to moor both boats for the week. We got a late start and headed in the direction of a specific cove that had been pointed out to us on a map because we were so large and it would give us the best protection from the elements (wind, storms) that we were warned popped up unexpectedly.
We passed the entry to our cove and circled around…we missed it again…and again… It all looked the same to us. The sun was beginning to slip behind the mountains. Darkness was now pressing in on us. Somehow we had gotten separated from the Ski boat. We needed to find our destination. Adding apprehension to my new set of unknowns was the need to find that Ski boat! The wind was kicking up and dusk was riding on it. We needed both boats anchored on a sandbar and there was only one that would meet the need we had for our floating ark!
I would like to think that I am a brave and courageous person. After all, I had taken our two year old and delivered our second child in a foreign country as a young missionary. I left the familiar and comfortable to live among an unreached tribe in the middle of a remote jungle. When there was no one to suture a machete wound, give T. B. injections or deliver babies, I, with fear and trembling, stepped up to the plate! So I must be courageous…right?
Courage is the strength from God that enables us to endure any circumstance, trial or danger with gratefulness, understanding His sovereign will. It is demonstrating the confidence that harmonizing with God’s will brings ultimate victory regardless of present circumstance or opposition.
“Deut. 31:6“Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord your God goes with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you.”
God miraculously guided us into the exact place on the map that was the only “secure” spot for our houseboat! The boys jumped off and took the iron stakes, crossed them and anchored them deep in the sandbar. Hastily my grandson, Christopher, ignited the BBQ and soon we were settled in and looking forward to a Bible Study with Grandpa Ralph before we headed to bed.
Morning came early and everyone, except Ralph and I, loaded onto the speedboat to water ski, wake board, etc. The day was perfect. The lake was smooth as glass and our vacation was now in full swing. We watched the fast boat disappear. For hours Ralph and I enjoyed the silence and beauty of the lake. Another boat had pulled onto our ridge sometime in the night and we were looking for an opportunity to meet them.
Out of nowhere, our solitude was interrupted by a swift and strong wind that came over the waters. The waves were rapidly peaking at 5’! Our boat began to sway and the moorings pulled loose from the sandbar!
As the boat rocked… my first thought was, “Where are the kids?!” and then…as we slipped backwards into the unknown lake, “Could we replace this massive beast if it crashed into the jagged cliffs surrounding it and sunk!?”
Ralph was on his feet and immediately took off like a bullet!
On a dead run, he looked back and in an effort to calm my fears, yells over his shoulder, “Don’t panic, Jackie…safety is in the Lord”. He jumps the ten feet or more from the boat to the shoreline and grabs the rope that has slipped into the lake. All the moorings were now laying flat on the sandbar!
“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” Proverbs 3: 25-26
As I am drifting alone out into the lake, panicked and screaming for Ralph, the neighbors whom we had not yet seen came running toward our landing. The man leapt into the lake and then jumped on board with me! He grabbed the wheel, started the engine and pulled us back toward shore. He told me to keep the engine running and keep it pointed toward the sandbar. I instantly obeyed, as he disappeared to help Ralph with the ropes and re-pounding the stakes.
His wife began yelling at me from shore to hit the sandbar as hard and fast as I could! That was the easiest command I have obeyed in a long time…I full-throttled that ark up onto the sandbar, not realizing the job was so well done that it took eight people to get us loose the day we left!
The storm was raging and the boat was once again secured, but our children and grandchildren were still out on the open water! Had they found refuge in a cove or were they trying to get back to us? My comfort came again from a biblical promise:
“Those who respect the Lord will have security, and their children will be protected”! Pro. 14:26
“Jesus Christ is no security AGAINST storms, but He is perfect IN storms. He has never promised us an easy passage, only a safe landing.” L. B. Cowma
Ralph and I watched across the lake… praying. Within an hour we heard the motor and saw them coming in the distance. They had fought the waves and strong current and God had brought them to us safely. The stories they excitedly shared were a Grandma’s nightmare!
As quickly as the storm hit, the wind subsided and calmness was restored. The next few days were a tranquil dream… and a memory that will last a lifetime.
“We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.” Francis de Sales
Lest I fail to put real courage in perspective, listen to the testimony of John Huss:
“When John Huss was about to be burned to death, they asked him to give up his teachings. Huss answered, “What I have taught with my lips, I now seal with my blood.’”
That is Real courage!
Whatever the New Year holds for us…let’s face it courageously…trusting our Sovereign God who is in control and calms the storms in life.
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.