Pressing on Towards the Goal by Randy Rowley 9/13/18 ©


My second motorboat was a 1989 18’ 4” Champion 184 fiberglass bass boat with a 150 HP Mercury motor named Champ.  Champ proved to be a good bass boat.  He could cruise at 50 MPH with two guys in the boat and 48 MPH with three.  But he had limitations.  For duck hunting, he was just a transport vessel due to his mostly white hull.

As Champ wasn’t camo, I couldn’t duck hunt out of him like I could from Bob – my previous camo aluminum V-hull boat.  With Champ, we’d go to where we were going to hunt, unload our gear, move him 75 or so yards away, and cover him with a camo tarp.

Champ wasn’t a bay boat, so he wasn’t well suited for saltwater – his electrical connections weren’t as well-sealed as those on saltwater boats are.  He also didn’t have a hydraulic jack plate, so he couldn’t get on skinny water like most bay boats, which made bay fishing challenging.

Because he was fiberglass and wasn’t aluminum, it was riskier taking him into stumpy areas on lakes where we duck hunted.

Also, Champ had a lot of mechanical issues.  Over four years, I replaced many things, and some of them twice or more!  He proved to be one of the “Break-Out-Another-Thousand” boats that boat owners constantly complain about.

The beginning of Champ’s end occurred in July when one of his motor’s pistons stopped working.  It would have cost more to rebuild his motor than he was worth, so I sold the motor for parts and only took Champ to small lakes after that due to only having a trolling motor and two paddles.  As I didn’t want to put a new motor on a 29-year-old boat, and I didn’t want to risk putting another used motor on Champ, I sold him 14 months later.

I started my search to replace Champ nine months after his motor went kaput.  I planned to retire at the end of June and then return to work in October.  With two incomes, I could afford a boat that would meet my needs.

I eventually decided that I needed a 20’ camo aluminum bay boat.  A bay boat was for obvious reasons.  The camo and aluminum were for duck hunting.  It had to be 20’ long and have a 0.125” thick hull, as opposed to a 0.1” hull, to be strong enough to carry four duck hunters.

After considerable research, I determined that four boats would meet my needs – the Excel Bay Pro 203, the Xpress H20B, the G3 Bay 20 DLX, and the SeaArk 2072 FX.  The latter two cost about 3K more than the former two, and the Xpress boats had an iffy reputation, so I narrowed my search to just Excel’s.

But there was a problem – there were hardly any used camo ones available.  I initially found just one in the continental United States – a 2015 in Louisiana.  The dealer wouldn’t finance it, as it was a consignment sale, so I kept looking.

Finally, a camo 2017 went on the market in North Carolina.  The dealer said that he would put a saltwater trolling motor and a fish finder on it.  Best of all, it was a much better deal than the 2015 in Louisiana.  About the same time, I was re-hired at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission via the Peak Performers staffing agency.  I put a deposit down on the boat and made arrangements to pick it up.

I thought we had a date set, but the salesman called and said they didn’t have the title yet and wouldn’t sell the boat without it.  I was floored.  What dealer lists a boat for sale without having a title?  I called them for the next six days and got the same answer – it wasn’t there yet.  I asked them to contact the bank and find out what the hold-up was.  They did and discovered that they had made a paperwork error.  They corrected it and were confident that they’d get the title in a week.

But I had lost confidence in them getting the title before Friday, August the 23th.  I started my new job on Monday, August the 27th, and it would take me four full days to make the 2700-mile round trip.  I canceled the agreement.

Plan B was the 2015 in Louisana.  I made a deal with the owner, via the dealer, for 22.5K, but the boat lender said that I had to borrow a minimum of 25K on just the boat, and they didn’t consider add-ons such as a trolling motor and fishfinder as part of the boat.  As I struggled to work out the financing, I starting to work on another backup plan.

Plan C was a new camo 2018 in Alabama.  I called and learned that they had sold the 2018, but they had a couple of camo 2019’s in stock.  I worked out a deal with them and canceled the agreement on the 2015.  I had them add a Minn Kota Terrova Riptide (saltwater version) 80 lb. thrust trolling motor with i-Pilot, a Huminbird Helix 7 Chirp SI GPS G2 fishfinder (that linked to the i-Pilot), an Atlas 6-inch hydraulic jack plate, two dual-cycle batteries, a starter battery, a three-bank charger, and a stainless steel prop.

Four days and 1308 round-trip miles later, I had my new boat.  I named him Cam.

One of the things that I asked God while this was happening was why the deal for the 2017 boat didn’t happen.  After five months of looking, I finally found a boat that would work but couldn’t seal the deal.

God brought Acts 9:26-28 to mind.  After Paul’s conversion, he returned to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples.  But the disciples were afraid of him and didn’t believe that he was a disciple because of his efforts to imprison Christians.  Barnabas defended Paul before the apostles.  So, Paul stayed with them.  As a result of this intervention, Paul and Barnabas became fast friends.

John Mark, Barnabas’s cousin, went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey.  For an unspecified reason, John Mark decided to return home to Jerusalem (see Acts 13:13).  It’s speculated that John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas because Paul had become ill.

Later, while planning their second missionary journey, Barnabas proposed to bring John Mark again.  But Paul opposed the idea.  Acts 15:36-41 relates that a “sharp contention” developed between them.  The disagreement was so severe that they went their separate ways.  Sadly, the Bible doesn’t mention these two great missionaries ever being together again.

By all accounts, these two disciples had experienced a very successful missionary journey – they started several churches, and many Gentiles were converted to Christianity.  Paul and Barnabas had come to depend on each other through the many trials and dangers they faced.

So after winning the equivalent of their first Christian Super Bowl together, they joyfully began to plan their second mission trip.  Probably, after discussing where and when they should go, the conversation turned to who should go with them.  And then their plans came to a screeching halt.

The Bible does not tell us what they were feeling, but it had to be a major disappointment for both of them.  They were assumably rested and spiritually and mentally ready to do God’s work.  They knew that God wanted them to go on this journey together, and all they needed was to work out a few details.  Now they both were having to come up with Plan B’s.

Perhaps realism guided Paul – thinking that a man who once quit them could easily do so again.  If John Mark had indeed abandoned them because Paul was ill, Paul could have taken that personally.  And love for kin and a desire to give John Mark a second chance may have moved Barnabas.

Regardless of who was at fault, their argument was not over a doctrinal issue. Instead, it was due to dissenting opinions.  To their credit, these men did not allow the dispute to distract them from their efforts to spread the gospel.

There will be times when our best-laid plans don’t go off as planned, and we have to develop another plan quickly.  What’s important during such times is to keep focused on the prize and to do the will of Christ.

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Paul and Barnabas both had a goal to win the heavenly prize of the incorruptible crown.

The decision of Barnabas to offer John Mark a second chance may have been the best one for John Mark and Paul.  Years later, Paul instructed his disciple Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:11 to “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  And Paul told the Colossian Christians to welcome Mark if he came to visit them (see Colossians 4:10).

If your plans ever come to a screeching halt, like my plans to buy that boat in North Carolina and then buy that boat in Louisiana did, or Paul’s and Barnabas’s did when they were planning their second mission trip, don’t let hindrances keep you from pressing on towards the goal.

Cam before his maiden voyage

Categories : Devotionals

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