Overboard! by Randy Rowley 2/1/08 ©


On a dark and cold February night, three friends and I went white bass fishing west of Austin, on Lake Travis, .  After we launched the late Derrich Pollock’s bass boat at the Jonestown boat ramp, we proceeded to go glass minnow hunting.  Derrich drove his boat at idle speed and shined a spotlight in front of and next to his boat while Eddy Chance scooped them up with a long minnow net.

After we caught a medium-sized minnow bucket full of glass minnows, we headed to the Cedar Park pump station.  We tied up, put out fishing lights, and started dunking minnows.  After an hour of not much success, we decided to try the Jonestown pump station.

As soon as we tied up there, we started to catch white bass.  They were huddled up near the bottom and were hungry!  We caught white bass steadily, but after another hour, the minnows weren’t looking very good.  Several appeared to be near death.  Derrich asked Eddy to add fresh water to the minnow bucket, as he was closest to it.  Little did we know how enthusiastically Eddy would complete this task.

As Eddy leaned over the boat’s bow filling the minnow bucket with water, a big wave hit the boat, causing it to dip.  Eddy was not expecting this, and when the bow dropped, he lost his balance and fell face-first into the water!

To make matters worse, he got his belt stuck on a boat cleat, so his top half was underwater, and his bottom half was still on the boat!  Derrich and I sprang to Eddy’s aid (as Dave Brandt answered the call of nature at the stern).  Derrich tried grabbing Eddy’s belt, but just before he could, Eddy slid out of his pants, and his bottom half joined his top half in the 50-degree water.

Eddy surfaced in a couple of seconds, and Derrich and I hauled him back onto the boat.  Fortunately, we brought extra clothes, so Eddy was able to get into something warm.  The other unfortunate thing to happen was all the minnows escaped when Eddy took his little swim.

We caught a few more minnows and resumed fishing.  But now, the quiet of the night was interrupted occasionally by sudden bursts of uncontrollable laughter as Eddy’s swim played back in our minds.  Despite the accidental dunking, we came home with a medium-sized cooler full of 100 white bass!

Did you know that God wants us to be like Eddy – to go overboard for him?  He doesn’t want us to dip our big toe in and test the waters.  He wants us to plunge right in.

The Bible is filled with examples of people who went overboard and plunged right in for God.  Some examples include:

  • The Lord told Noah to build an ark that would save his family and two of every creature that walked the earth from a flood when it had yet to rain on the earth. Yet Noah did it, and he, his family, and all the creatures with him were saved.  (See Genesis 6:5-9:17.)
  • The Lord told Moses to part the waters of the Red Sea. He did it, and the Hebrews were saved from the pursuing Egyptian army, and then that army was destroyed when the waters returned to normal.  (See Exodus 14:9-31.)
  • The Lord told Joshua and the Israelites to march around Jericho for six days and march around it again, blow trumpets, and shout on the seventh day. They did it, and the walls fell, and they destroyed Jericho.  (See Joshua 5:13 – 6:20.)
  • The Lord told Gideon to take on the Median army of tens of thousands with only 300 men. He did it, and the Israelites wiped out the Median army.  (See Judges 6:11 – 7:23.)
  • After feeding five thousand men with only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus told his disciples to take a boat across the Sea of Galilee while he stayed behind to send away the multitude and pray.  A storm arose on the sea, and the disciple’s boat was caught in it and tossed about by the waves.  Adding to their fear, the disciples saw a man during the night walking on the sea.  Thinking he was a ghost, they cried out in fear.  When Jesus told them not to fear because it was him, a skeptical Peter challenged him saying, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus told him to come.  Peter did it and walked on the water toward Jesus.  (See Matthew 14:22–30.)
  • Acts 1:3 – 2:47 and several other passages in the book of Acts recount how the apostles went overboard after receiving the Holy Spirit, going from men who were in hiding because they feared the Romans would kill them to bold witnesses for Christ.
  • Acts 6:8 – 8:3, 9:1 – 9:22, and most of the rest of the book of Acts recounts how Paul went overboard after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, going from a persecutor of Christians to the greatest missionary to the Gentiles and the writer of more than half of the New Testament.

Paul gave a great example of going overboard in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27.  He wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  The short version is he gave Jesus everything that he had.

In reading the Hall of Fame of the Faithful in Hebrews Chapter 11, eighteen of the forty verses begin with “By faith.”  If we don’t have faith, we can’t go overboard for God.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Hebrews 11:32 – 34 says, “And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”  Faith is as essential in a Christian’s life as air is to the human body.  Without air, we will soon be dead; without faith, we are spiritually dead.

History since Biblical times is filled with people who stepped out in faith and went overboard for God.  People like Martin Luther, David Livingston, John and Charles Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Josh McDowell, James Dobson, and thousands of pastors and missionaries.

Have you gone overboard for the Lord, or have you just gotten your toes wet?  If you haven’t gone overboard for him, I encourage you to step out in faith and plunge right in.

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