Monday, September 8, 2014

A Story Too Good Not to Tell...about Prayer and Boats and God

We'd been set for a final trip out to the Annapolis area where our daughter is stationed in the Navy. She was scheduled to start training in Pensacola, so we needed to grab our granddog for adoption into our own home. The week before the trip, there was a change of plans, orders changed, so we were scrambling. Hotels.com very kindly refunded us the non-cancellable booking for the week! It was the 3rd anniversary of our son, Ben's leaving Earth for Heaven too early, so we wanted to be 'away' as if we're every really away from that.

We found a Groupon for Lake Lawn Lodge for three of the nights, and we do love that place in the summer. They have the best pool around here, overlooking Lake Delavan, and a summer afternoon there is just splendidly beautiful and relaxing. So I searched for other options for a couple more nights, and kept coming up with nothing. Finally, I figured we might as well see if Lake Lawn would give us a couple more nights at the Groupon rate, and they did! So we were booked for most of the week. And then we wondering, "Well, other than eating at our favorite restaurants, what are we going to do all week?"



So I thought: Boat. We're on Lake Delavan, and Lake Geneva is next door. We need a boat.

There were a couple problems, though. My sailboat was still Up Nort, an hour from Green Bay (Go Pack Go!) since it had just been a crazy busy Spring and Summer, so I'd not had time to get it or sail it. And, we don't own another boat. So I searched out rentals to see if that were feasible. Not. Unless you think $400 for a half day is ok. I don't.

A few days later, I kept thinking, we really need a boat. And I thought, I have friends who have boats who won't be using them, surely someone would let me borrow one. But how do you call and ask, "Would you loan me your boat for the week?" It's just not like borrowing a lawn mower, you know? And I thought about all the people I know and stories I'd heard where they need something, pray for it, and Bang, there it is. Right. We usually just go buy what we need instead, right? But buying a boat for a week (though it did occur to me that I could return it....) wasn't in the cards.

And then, I felt something in my spirit that said, "Why don't you ask God for a boat?" And I'm like, right. Really. But for one brief moment in time, I actually believed I could, and so I did, and for one more brief moment in time, I actually believed that God would come through. I know. Crazy. (But He's crazy, too!)

Two hours later, I get home, see my neighbor a couple doors up pulling weeds around his mailbox, and stop the truck to chat. I told him we weren't headed to Annapolis after all, but to Lake Lawn. He'd first introduced us to the place a few years back when they got a Groupon. So he asked if we got a Groupon, and I told him no, and then the story of how we booked it for the same price anyway. And then he said, "Are you taking a boat?" And I about fell out of my truck. First, he knows I don't have a power boat. And he knows my sailboat is still Up Nort. And I said, "No, but I need a boat." And he said, I kid you not: "I can get you a boat..."

And so the next day, we went and got the boat from a friend of his.



So many questions...like, why the boat? Boats don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Why don't I pray like that for more important things? Well, I do...but do I just say words, or do I believe? And even when I do believe, God often says, "No. Not now," anyway. But for whatever His reasons, this time, He said, "Oh, I've got to do this and blow him away!" And He did. It was crazy, loony, fun, and silly...and just like our God. He reminded me in THIS, that He's hearing all the prayers, knows our hearts, has NOT abandoned us even when we think so, tells me not to believe the enemy's lies, and to never give up. Never. And He reminds me that He really does love surprises, and to delight His beloved.

I just wanted you to know this story. God is good. He proved it with a boat, and drove it deep into my heart at full throttle.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rescuing Each Others' Hearts

We were privileged to have another! vacation in Maryland visiting our daughter, who's in the Navy. This time, we decided to take a couple days and go out to the shore—Ocean City, MD. What a beautiful place. Definitely one of my favorite beach areas. We got in late on Friday night since she had to work that day, and then spent the whole day Saturday on the beach. In the waves, sitting in the sand, reading books, watching people, just soaking it in. It has been a long time since we'd been able to enjoy such a time as this.

We'd planned to spend Sunday morning there as well, but things just were conspiring against us to keep that from happening...and I was really trying to be ok with it, and just enjoy what we'd had on Saturday. But the truth wouldn't leave me alone. My heart was hurt, in a way that I can't even express though I know how to string words together! I kept waking up early that morning wondering, "Why does disappointment always have to win?" "Why can't the Saturday joy overcome the Sunday disappointment?" And there were no answers, but it was much deeper than about the beach. It was about our lives. It was about our short memories. As Rick Warren said recently, "Why can't I forget the things I don't want to remember, but always remember the things I want to forget?" And that's the story of our lives, it seems. We yearn for just more. There really is never enough. Of anything good.

And I just laid there, sad in my soul, not even crying out to God, just crying out inside...."Why does disappointment win?" Finally, I figured I'd get up and go take a walk on the beach alone, at least, and feel sorry for myself by not inviting anyone else to the party. I'd barely gotten dressed when my wife asked me, "Where are you going?" And I told her to take a walk on the beach. She said, "But I thought we were going to the beach?" I guess I hadn't explained to her that it just wasn't in the cards, we had to check out at an odd time, had a 2-3 hour drive back, and our daughter had a work day on Monday...so I just tried to explain all that quickly, and she could tell that I was really hurt. (I really love my beach!) She said, and I thank God for this: "Well, why can't you and I just go for an hour, and our daughter can get ready and pack up while we're gone, and then we can come back and pack up and clean up?" And I thought, "Huh, that might work..." It was really too good to believe. I had been transported from the depths of despair to the heights of joy and possibility in a moment. She rescued my heart.

So here's the scene:
 
I so thoroughly enjoyed that hour we had...I told her she'd rescued my heart and she didn't even understand, really. We walked the beach, had some laughs with the lifeguards coming on duty, sat and read and I played in the waves. It was awesome.
 
And I began to realize how many times we have an opportunity to rescue someone's heart, and miss it. We don't know their despair, their loneliness, their hopelessness, or that disappointment is winning. Again. We don't know how much a hug, and encouraging word, a meal and some laughter can truly bring light into the darkness. That's grace. Something good that comes from 'out there' that's beyond us, beyond our control. We need to bring grace to others.
 
This time I saw it, I felt it. God brought grace to me, and used my wife to do it. It was powerful.