It’s been a long time since someone barked at me with such anger in their voice. His hard words shattered the serenity of the moment. Though not sure why, clearly he was having a bad day. In an effort to heed his angry request, I quickly grabbed the throttle and slowed our boat down even more. The young man with me was as shocked as I. We both knew we were well within the speed limit of the no wake zone we were traveling through. The best I could figure, the man turning wrenches on his tired shrimp boat must have been having some challenges getting something fixed. Regardless, I decided to forgive him and head out onto the open water for a good day of fishing.
Since I surrendered my life to Christ, many years ago, anger has not been an issue for me. Though there have been times when I’ve felt some rising on the inside, God’s grace and work in my life have kept me in a wonderful way. On the day I encountered the growling shrimp boat captain, I must admit, that grace was tried. Thankfully, the lure of a beautiful day of fishing, and a commitment to not to let my heart get offended, pulled me past the angry shrimper and on to Amelia Island’s beautiful backwaters.
Now all that was good until it was time to return home. Knowing we would have to navigate the same creek and no wake zone, I was extra careful to crawl my little boat past the spot where we had been so warmly greeted earlier that day. Though this time the man didn’t yell the glare in his eyes was just as angry. It was then that my fishing partner, a young guy and member of my congregation, asked a question. “As a pastor, do you ever just want to bark back,” he said wondering if I was just like everyone else. “There are times,” I told him, “but such conduct would not be fitting for someone in my role.” “But it’s your day off,” he said, giving us both a good laugh. Later, his humorous words got me thinking.
Beyond being a pastor, being a child of God is not a job we clock in and out of. It’s who we are. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. For those who hold such a view, I see a few problems. Namely, if my commitment to walk with God is sporadic, when I need His help, His responsiveness is likely to be the same. Though it’s true, He’s very merciful, it’s also true that if we think we can make it without Him, He’s more than willing to let us try. My experience doing so has never been good. I once heard it said that seven days without God makes one weak. While it’s a play on words, I couldn’t agree more. I suppose if Christmas and Easter, or if you are really spiritual Sundays and Wednesdays, are the only times of the year we need God, then clocking in and out as a Christian would be ok. The problem is it’s just not that way. Life’s challenges come when they want not when we plan them. Consequently, we need God all the time.
In the end, we all have a wake that follows behind our lives. As for me, and for those who are watching me, I want to be sure that what they see in my wake is Jesus. To think that I can take a day off from Leaning on Him and still have those results is presumptuous to say the least.
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