On the Rocks by Randy Rowley 4/17/18 ©


On a chilly Saturday morning in April, Roland Olivarez and I headed to Lake Pflugerville for an FCS self-chartered bass fishing trip.  When we arrived, we found we had the lake to ourselves.  But it wasn’t the cold that kept other fishermen, who are usually kayakers, away – it was undoubtedly the projected 15 – 25 MPH winds with gusts up to 30 MPH.

Motorboats are allowed on the lake, but they cannot use their gas motors.  But I couldn’t have broken that rule if I’d wanted to, as I’d sold my gas motor for parts shortly before this trip after a piston went bad.  That left my Minn Kota 74 lb. thrust trolling motor and two paddles for propulsion.

Two months before this trip, the trolling motor and paddles weren’t up to the task on a windy day on Lake Decker.  Shortly before this trip, I bought a new 12-volt deep cycle battery to power the trolling motor, along with my existing one-year-old 12-volt deep cycle battery.  I felt confident my trolling motor was now up to the task of handling the projected winds.

But, almost immediately after leaving the boat ramp, I had trouble keeping my boat in a straight line by the dam.  After a few minutes of frustration, we went to the opposite side of the lake, where the houses near the bank would hopefully block the wind.  When we arrived, we found it was indeed much calmer.

Over the next three hours, I caught three bass on a Norman Little N crankbait (a medium-diving round bill) in red and blue glitter color, and Roland caught a bass on a red and black spinnerbait.

At around 10:30 AM, as we headed toward the boat ramp, we both got our crankbaits stuck on rocks by the shore.  I dropped Roland off on the shore, and he freed both lures.  The wind had picked up considerably, so we decided to call it a day.  Roland decided to walk to my truck, which was around 300 yards away, while I maneuvered my boat to the boat ramp.

I started to remove my outer clothes, as to trailer my boat, I would have to jump in the water.  As I was removing my pants, I reached back to get my phone out of my outer jacket to take a picture of the waves, but it wasn’t there!  Both jackets were no longer on my boat – the wind had blown them out, and they were heading towards the dam!

I turned up the power on my trolling motor and netted my outer jacket, but my inner jacket was now on the rocks along the dam.  I decided to go past it and then come towards it into the wind.  But the estimated 25 – 30 MPH wind was too much for my trolling motor, even on full power, and it pushed my boat into the rocks lining the dam.

After making no headway, I shut the trolling motor off and pulled its head out of the water.  I then got into the water and tried to keep my boat off the rocks.  Roland came over and joined me, and we ‘walked’ my boat along the shoreline, around 200 yards to the ramp.  Fortunately, the water was mainly waist-deep.  Unfortunately, the moss-covered rocks were very slippery.  We arrived at the ramp wetter and considerably colder than when we launched, but Roland, my boat, and I were whole.

Acts 21:17 – 28:11 tells the recount of one of the many times Paul’s life was on the rocks.  After his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem.  Some Jews from Asia seized Paul and charged him with teaching against the Jewish law and the temple and defiling the temple by bringing Greeks into it.  Paul defended himself before the Sanhedrin, Governor Felix, and his successor, Festus.  During his trial before Festus, Paul appealed to Caesar, which was his right as a Roman citizen.

The Romans then put Paul on a ship bound for Italy.  Paul advised the ship’s owner, pilot, and the centurion not to leave port then because of the terrible winter storms, but they didn’t heed his warning.

When they passed near the island of Crete, a terrible storm hit them.  The wind blew so hard the sailors couldn’t steer the ship.  They jettisoned the cargo and non-essential rigging and dropped their sea anchor.  After several days, everyone on board, including Paul, gave up all hope they’d live.

Then an angel visited Paul.  He reminded Paul of God’s promise Paul would testify before Caesar and told him none on the ship would die, but the ship would be lost.  Paul then told everyone on board.

The sailors sensed they were nearing land on the 14th night after the storm began.  They took soundings and found the water was becoming shallower.  They dropped their anchors, fearing their ship would be smashed into rocks in the dark.  Paul encouraged everyone to eat and thanked God for the food just before dawn.

At daylight, they saw a bay and decided to try to sail the ship onto the beach.  But, as they drew close to shore, the ship hit a sandbar and held fast.  Waves smashed into the ship, and it began to break up.  Everyone abandoned ship, but as he promised, God spared them all.

Luke’s recount and Roland’s and my trial (to a much lesser degree) teach us three practical truths.

Firstly, although we might not be in control during a storm, God is, if he so chooses.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  That’s not a promise everything will work out OK in this life – sometimes God doesn’t choose to rescue us, as he chose not to rescue Jesus while he was dying on the cross because he has a purpose we might not learn until we reach heaven.  Because we know God will work everything for good eventually, we can be OK, no matter how things turn out – it’s called trusting him.

The sailors had done all they could.  They couldn’t navigate, and even if they could, they couldn’t steer the ship.  They were utterly at the storm’s mercy.  In Roland’s and my case, we could save my boat, and we did.  But, if this had been one of several other central Texas lakes with deeper water by their dams, we wouldn’t have been able to walk my boat out.  Saving the people who were on the sandbar with Paul was a simple matter to God, who said in Jeremiah 32:27, “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?'”

Secondly, during life’s storms, we must trust God.  Because of this trust, we’ll behave differently than those who don’t know God.  Everyone on Paul’s ship had abandoned all hope they would live.  Then an angel visited Paul.  He reminded him of God’s promise and told him God’s specific plan regarding their present predicament.  Paul shared the angel’s words with everyone on board to encourage them.  He later did something practical – he encouraged everyone to eat to give them the strength to swim to shore.  He also publicly thanked God for the food.  Taking a reasonable step didn’t lessen his trust in God.

Later, after what Paul foretold happened, he probably seized the opportunity to witness (share the redemption of sin through Christ) to everyone.  He had opportunities to preach many sermons, teach many lessons, sing many songs, and pray many prayers.  But, other than thanking God for the food, Luke didn’t record Paul doing any of those things.  Instead, Paul established his credibility by reminding everyone he’d earlier implored them not to make the journey at that time and later proclaimed none would die.  After they saw he was a man of his word, the sailors, soldiers, and prisoners probably were interested in what Paul had to say about Jesus.  Paul probably had many opportunities to witness to a receptive audience in the three months they stayed on that island.

Lastly, when a storm catches us, we’re not necessarily out of God’s will – we could be in it because he’s using it to teach us something, or it’s the natural consequence of our sin.  There’s just one remedy if the latter’s the case – repent.  If you’re unsure how to do that, 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” and Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” and Acts 3:19 (NLT) states, “Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins.”  Repentance involves:

  • an awareness of and sorrow for your sin (rebellion against God);
  • acknowledging you’re helpless to remedy your sin on your own and only God can;
  • confessing your sin to God, turning from it, and asking him to forgive you.

In addition, if you’ve never repented, John 11:25 says, “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.’”  Redemption from sin also requires believing Jesus died to take your punishment and asking him to be your Savior and Lord.

Sometimes, we’re in the center of God’s will, like Paul was, and still have to go through storms.  God told Paul he would stand trial before Caesar – he just didn’t bother to share the details of how Paul would get to Rome.  Undoubtedly, the storm and shipwreck were a big deal to Paul and his companions, but to God, the details were trivial of how he would get Paul to where he was supposed to be.

If you find yourself in a storm, or worse yet, a storm has pushed you onto the rocks, remember God’s in control and will work everything to our good, eventually.  All he requires from us is to trust him and repent if we’re in a storm due to our sin.

The waves

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.