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


My second motorboat, a 1989 18’ 4” Champion 184 fiberglass bass boat (old-style fish and ski) with a 150 HP Mercury motor named 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 Champ had a big limitation – he was just a transport vessel when I took people duck hunting due to his mostly white hull.  As he wasn’t camo, I couldn’t duck hunt out of him as 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 at least 75 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.  He also couldn’t get in skinny water like most bay boats, as he didn’t have a hydraulic jack plate, making bay fishing frustrating.

Because Champ was fiberglass and not aluminum, it was riskier taking him into the stumpy areas on the lakes where we duck hunted.

Also, Champ had a lot of mechanical issues.  Over four years, I replaced or repaired many things, some twice or more!  He proved to be a dreaded “Break-Out-Another-Thousand” boat.

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 it for parts and only took Champ to small lakes afterward due to only having a trolling motor and two paddles.  I also didn’t want to risk putting another used motor on Champ and didn’t want to put a new motor on a 29-year-old boat.  I sold Champ 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 return to work in early October.  With my salary and retirement checks, I could afford the boat payment for a substantially newer boat.

I eventually decided a 20’ camo aluminum bay boat would best meet my needs.  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 – Excel’s Bay Pro 203, Xpress’ H20B, G3’s Bay 20 DLX, and SeaArk’s 2072 FX.  The two latter boats cost about 3K more than the two former boats, and I read some concerning reviews regarding the Xpress, so I narrowed my search to an Excel Bay Pro 203.

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

Finally, a 2017 boat went on the market in North Carolina.  The dealer said he’d put a saltwater trolling motor and a fish finder on it.  Best of all, it was a much better deal than the one for the 2015 boat.  Around the same time, I was hired by the Peak Performers staffing agency as a contractor for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  I put a deposit down on the 2017 and arranged to pick it up.

I thought we had a pick-up 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 him over the next six days and got the same answer – it wasn’t there yet.  Finally, I asked him to contact the bank to determine the delay.  He did and discovered that they (the dealer) had made a paperwork error.  He was confident they’d receive the title within a week after they corrected it.

But I wasn’t confident they’d get the title before August 24th.  I would start my new job on August 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 boat in Louisiana.  I made a deal with the owner, via the dealer, for 22.5K, but the boat lender said I’d have to borrow a minimum of 25K on just the boat, and they didn’t consider add-ons such as a trolling motor and fish finder as the boat.  I tried to work the financing out but also started working on Plan C.

Plan C was a new (2018) boat in Stapleton, Alabama.  I called the dealer and learned they’d sold it but had two camo 2019s in stock.  I quickly worked out a deal with them. I had them add a Minn Kota Terrova Riptide 80 lb. thrust trolling motor with i-Pilot (designed for saltwater), a Huminbird Helix 7 Chirp SI GPS G2 fish finder (that can link 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.  I then canceled the agreement on the 2015 boat.

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

One of the things I asked God during my search was why the deal for the 2017 boat didn’t happen.  After five months of looking, I finally found a boat that would’ve met my needs, but I couldn’t seal the deal.  God brought Acts 9:26-28 to my mind.  After Paul’s conversion, he returned to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples.  But they feared him and didn’t believe he was a disciple because of his efforts to imprison Christians.  Barnabas defended him, and Paul stayed with them.  As a result of this intervention, Paul and Barnabas became fast friends.

John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin, went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey.  For an unspecified reason, John Mark returned home to Jerusalem (see Acts 13:13).  Bible scholars speculate John Mark left Paul and Barnabas because Paul became ill.

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

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

After winning the equivalent of their first Christian Super Bowl together, they joyfully began planning their second mission trip to revisit the churches they’d established.  The conversation eventually turned to whom they should take with them, and then their plans came to a screeching halt.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how they felt about the cancellation of their second mission trip together, but it had to be a major disappointment for both of them.  They were probably spiritually, mentally, and physically ready to do God’s work.  They knew God wanted them to go on this journey together, and all they needed to do was agree on a few details.  After canceling their joint second mission trip, they had to plan different trips that wouldn’t include the other.  That had to have stung.

Perhaps realism guided Paul.  He might have thought that a man who once quit could easily do so again.  If John Mark had left them because Paul became ill, Paul could have taken it personally.  And love for his cousin and a desire to give him a second chance may have driven Barnabas.

Regardless of who was wrong, their argument wasn’t over a doctrinal issue.  Instead, it was due to dissenting opinions.  To their credit, they didn’t allow their dispute to distract them from their efforts to spread the good news of redemption of sin through Christ.

Sometimes our best-laid plans don’t work out, and we must develop a Plan B.  What’s important during such times is to keep focusing on the prize and doing God’s will.

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 aimed to win the heavenly imperishable crown – Jesus’ “Well done!” at the end of the Christian race (see 1 Corinthians 9:25).

Barnabas’ desire to offer John Mark a second chance may have been the best plan for John Mark and Paul.  Years later, Paul told Timothy to “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (see 2 Timothy 4:11).  And Paul told the Colossians 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 a used boat or Paul and Barnabas’ plans to have another joint mission trip did, don’t let hindrances keep you from pressing on toward the goal.

Randy and his wife, Chris, picking up Cam

Categories : Devotionals

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