This morning I was thinking about all that is going on (and wrong) with the world…senseless shootings, deadly flu outbreaks, worries about the economy, about our government and about our future in general…lot’s to fret about…for sure…
Then I thought back to an event that happened to me many years ago…
I had been invited by a good friend, Hal Flowers, to accompany him driving his boat from Naples to Key West. Not that Hal asked…but I was not an experienced captain… As a matter of fact, as a kid, my grandfather let all my cousins sit on his lap and drive his boat and year after year… my turn never really came around… I guess he knew something…
Anyway…on the appointed day, Hal and I filled the boat with gas, checked the weather and left the marina in Naples and soon got out into open water and headed south. It seemed simple enough…just keep the land on your left! As we moved south, eventually we passed the southernmost point on the west coast of Florida and eventually lost sight of land entirely. Welcome to the Gulf of Mexico!
After hours of driving and several hours left to go, Hal was tired and wanted to take a nap. So he set the Loran (which is basically a GPS for boats, but it didn’t have a screen, just coordinates, and an alarm was programmed to sound if you got off course). Once the coordinates were set, he handed me the wheel and gave me these brief instructions, “just keep the boat within these coordinates. I’ve programmed the Loran to the tower at the entrance of Key West harbor. But if for whatever reason we miss it, we want to miss it to the East, because if we miss Key West Harbor to the West, we’ll end up in Cuba.” And with that, he went below and went to sleep.
So there I was, in the open Gulf of Mexico, no land in sight and trying to stay between two invisible coordinates that made no sense to me. I looked behind me and the wake of my boat was not in a straight line, in fact, it looked like a drunk driver was at the helm. Then moments later, the alarm of the Loran went off! I adjusted course and the alarm went off. Then a while later, it happened again, and again I adjusted course. This kept going on for almost an hour and each time the alarm went off, it took me longer and longer to course correct and silence the alarm. This continued until finally, I could no longer find my course! The alarm sounded constantly…I was freaking out!
So what did I do…? Did I wake up Hal? Nope. I turned off the alarm and kept driving.
I drove for several hours on my own, no Loran, no direction, no sense of where I was going and all the while, desperately looking for land and praying I wasn’t headed for Cuba. I had goofed up…big time. I knew we were in trouble…then Hal woke up…
He came up top and said, “Everything ok?” I took a deep breath and readied myself to confess the fact that we were lost and I was a horrible captain, and admit I was an idiot to turn off the Loran, and that I can never be trusted to do anything like this again…and as the words began to come out of my mouth…Hal looked over the bow of the boat and directly ahead of us and said, “cool!” And directly in front of us, I could just make out on the horizon… what looked like a tower… The tower at the opening of Key West Harbor!
So why did I think of this story this morning?
I guess I was thinking about all the things that have been on the news and in conversations with people everywhere I go. People talking about things to be afraid of…and I guess I’m just tired of it.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
When I think about this verse…one thing comes to mind…God didn’t give me a spirit of fear…and I don’t want anything that God didn’t give me…period! So that begs the question…if God didn’t give me the spirit of fear… who did? Hmmm?
I believe fear and worry pull us away from God. When we are afraid of things, we feel helpless, isolated and powerless…it renders us useless. Unfortunately, this has become a common message of this world…to be afraid.
The reality is, each time we find ourselves feeling fearful or worried, the alarm bells should be going off in our minds that we are moving away from God and the course He has planned for us…and that’s not a good place…for sure!
That doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and leave it all to God! No, we should certainly be wise in thinking ahead and planning ahead…we just don’t need to be worrying ahead!
This quote sums it up perfectly by an incredible woman named Corrie ten Boom:
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow, but it empties today of strength.”
So, when these feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry begin to sometimes take root in my mind, I need to discipline myself to immediately ask myself, “Where is my focus?” Am I thinking about God? If not…I need to…
I need to “fix my eyes” and “cast my worries” on the only person that can do anything about them.
Whether it’s guiding my life…or guiding my boat… to the opening of Key West Harbor.