Sep
12

Overdue! by Randy Rowley 9/12/08 ©

By

Six friends and I headed to the middle Texas coast, or coastal bend, for an FCS bay fishing trip in late July.  The late Derrich Pollock, his son Will, Steve Watkins, Jim Quimby, and I fished the Land Cut and Baffin Bay, southwest of Corpus Christi, from Jim’s bay boat.  Mark Dillow and Ronnie Ross fished Aransas Bay from Ronnie’s bay boat, northeast of Aransas Pass.

Each fisherman in my group caught about ten fish on live shrimp, including speckled trout, redfish, and black drum.  The keepers were four trout and three black drums.

As is typical with fishing in the summer, as the heat rose, the fish developed lockjaw.  Around noon, we decided to head back.

I called Mark on our ride back.  He said that they had caught some fish, but the fishing had slowed down considerably.  The call dropped just as I was about to ask him when they were going to head back.  Several attempts to reestablish contact failed.  I knew that cell phone reception was notoriously bad on the coast, so I didn’t worry about it.

Around 2:30 PM, my group dropped me off at Mark’s and my campsite at Padre Balli Park.  They then put Jim’s boat back in storage and flew back home to Austin.  I turned the A/C on in the pop-up camper and quickly fell asleep.

I woke up two hours later and called Mark to see what their ETA was.  My phone made a busy sound and said, “Service is unavailable.”

As I put coals in the grill and lit them around 5:30 PM, I called Mark and got the same results as before.  I asked myself, “What could have happened to them?”  Various possibilities entered my mind.  I remembered Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  I prayed, and the anxious thoughts went away.

Another hour went by.  I called Mark again and got the same results as before.  I also tried to call Ronnie and couldn’t reach him.  I started to cook dinner.  “They’ll be here any minute,” I told myself.  Meanwhile, those anxious thoughts had come back, and this time they had friends!

The question of what could have happened to them occupied my thoughts – and none of my possible answers were good.  They included:

  • the boat had a mechanical problem, capsized, or sank;
  • they had a medical emergency; and
  • one of them drowned.

Adding to my anxiety was a feeling of helplessness – I didn’t have a vehicle and a boat, so I couldn’t look for them.  I prayed while I ate dinner, but I couldn’t find the peace of God.  I kept thinking about what could have happened to them.  I knew that God would cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28), but my fear said the opposite.

I ate dinner and then put up the leftovers.  At about 8:00 PM, after another failed attempt to reach them, I walked to the campground’s headquarters, borrowed their landline phone, and called the coast guard.  The young man I spoke to couldn’t grasp that we had two boats that went to two different locations, one group was fine and had gone home, but the other group was overdue.

After a couple of minutes of failing to communicate with him, I asked for his supervisor.  After I explained the problem, he promised to call the Aransas Pass police, and they would begin to look for Mark’s truck at the boat ramps.

As I was walking back, my phone rang.  It was Ronnie!  I bombarded him with questions.  Are y’all OK?  Where are y’all?  What happened?  His answers astonished me.  They were fine, they were on their way to our campsite, and they had fished all day!  I hadn’t even considered that as a possibility, as I had never fished for an entire day.

Ronnie told me that he routinely fishes all day.  He was surprised that we hadn’t done the same.  He caught one shy of a limit of trout (nine), and they caught their limit of redfish (three each).  The fishing really turned on about 4:00 PM.  They caught and released 20 more keeper-sized redfish.  He said that it was the best bay fishing that either of them had experienced!

While giving thanks to God, I chalked the experience up as another of the many lessons that I had to learn the hard way over the years and kicked myself for not discussing our plans in more detail the night before.

I’m not usually the anxious type.  It is not in my nature to worry about things – which surprises some people as I come from a family of worrywarts.  But on this day I was worried sick.  The experience caused me to investigate more of what the Bible says about worrying.

According to Jesus, worrying doesn’t accomplish anything.  He said in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

To put Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians to not be anxious about anything into context, we have to examine what was going on when he wrote his letter that could make a Christian anxious.  During Paul’s first visit to Philippi, he exorcised a slave-girl who used fortune-telling to enrich her masters before her exorcism.  Her masters were enraged that their meal ticket was lost and dragged Paul and Silas before the city magistrates.  Paul and Silas were then flogged without a trial and thrown into prison.  (See Acts 16:12-24.)

The Philippians didn’t just have the stressors adults must deal with – finances, taxes, homes, health, children, parents, neighbors, etc.  They saw what happened to Paul and Silas and knew that the Romans imprisoned Paul after leaving them.  They had to live with the possibilities of imprisonment, punishment, and death because they followed Jesus.  That would undoubtedly make many people anxious!

However, Paul told us to be anxious for nothing.  He didn’t say, “Be anxious for nothing, except money, illness, children, and morality.”

The good news is Paul didn’t just tell us not to worry about a thing and then move on to another subject.  He instructed us that we would achieve a worry-free life through pleading to God with thanksgiving.

To plead without giving thanks isn’t enough.  To give thanks without entreating won’t get the desired result.  Pleading and giving thanks must be done together.

The peace of God wasn’t with me as I waited for Mark and Ronnie because I failed to thank God for the trial.

It is often hard to give thanks to God for everything, especially when we’re anxious.  But when we give thanks, it takes our minds off of ourselves and what we’re worried about and puts our minds on God and what we’re thankful for.  People who are busy counting their blessings are too busy to count their worries.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  But thanking him for everything and in all circumstances often goes against our nature!  For example, if we get a raise, we’ll thank him, but we’ll worry about how we’ll make it if we’re laid off.  Too often, we hang on to the things that we like to fret about.

We’ll develop a habit of being thankful for everything when we realize that:

  • God loves us and has our best interests in mind. Jesus said in John 3:16, “‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”
  • The ultimate outcome of every situation will be for our good. Romans 8:28 (NLT) says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
  • Our lives are in his hands. Jesus said in John 10:29, “‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.’”
  • Fear is the opposite of trust and is, therefore, a sin.

Paul said that pleading with thanksgiving will result in the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds through Jesus.  God fills us with the peace of the Prince of Peace, which is far different than just an absence of turmoil.  It’s the peace that knows that everything will ultimately work for our good.  Trusting God is the cure for worry.

God’s peace doesn’t come through protests, marches, hunger strikes, bumper stickers that tell us to visualize it, and trying to banish anxiety as I did during that fishing trip by pleading but not giving thanks for the trial.  God’s peace only comes from pleading to God and thanking him for everything.

Randy

Mark and Ronnie

Categories : Devotionals

Bible verse of the day

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

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

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