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


My second motor boat was a 1989 18’ 4” Champion 184 fiberglass bass boat with a 150 HP Mercury motor.  It proved to be a good bass boat.  It could cruise at 50 MPH with two guys in the boat and 48 MPH with three.  But it had limitations.  For duck hunting it was just a transport vessel, due to its mostly white hull.  As it wasn’t camo, I couldn’t hunt out of it like I could from my previous camo aluminum v-hull boat.  With my bass boat, we’d go to where we were going to hunt, unload our gear, move my boat 75 or so yards away, and cover it with a camo tarp.

It also had a lot of mechanical issues.  Over four years I replaced many things and some of them twice or more!  It proved to be that “Break-Out-Another-Thousand” boat that boat owners always complain about.

Also, as it was not a bay boat, it was not well suited for salt water.  It could not get into skinny water like the bay boats could, which made bay fishing challenging.  And, because it was not aluminum, it was riskier taking it into the stumpy areas were we duck hunted.

The beginning of its end occurred in July when one of the motor’s pistons stopped working.  As it would cost more to rebuild the motor than the boat was worth, I sold the motor for parts and only took the boat to small lakes after that due to only having a trolling motor and two paddles.  I finally sold the boat 14 months later.

I started my search to replace my bass boat nine months after its motor went kaput.  My plan was to retire at the end of June and then return to work in October.  After I had two incomes I could afford a boat that would meet all of my needs.

I eventually decided that what I needed was 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 Excel had the better reputation, so I concentrated my search for the Bay Pro.

But there was a problem – there weren’t very many used ones around in camo.  I initially found just one – a 2015 in Louisiana.  The boat didn’t have a trolling motor or a fish finder on it, and the dealer wouldn’t finance it as it was a consignment sale, so I kept looking.

Finally a 2017 Bay Pro 203 came on the market in North Carolina.  The dealer said that he would put a saltwater trolling motor and fish finder on it.  Best of all it was a much better deal than the boat in Louisiana.  About the same time I was re-hired at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission via Peak Performers staffing agency.  I put a deposit down on the boat and made arrangements to pick it up.

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

But I had lost confidence in them getting the title by Friday, August the 24th.  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 cancelled the deal and started to work on a back-up plan.

Plan B was the 2015 boat.  I made a deal with the dealer for 22.5K, but the boat lender said that I had to borrow a minimum of 25K on just the boat, as add-ons like a trolling motor and fish finder weren’t considered part of the boat.  As I struggled to get financing I starting to work on another back-up plan.

Plan C was a new 2018 Bay Pro in Stapleton, Alabama.  I called and learned that they had sold the 2018, but they had a couple 2019’s in stock.  I worked out a deal with them and cancelled the deal 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 fish finder, and an Atlas hydraulic jack plate.

Three days and 1308 miles (round trip) later I had my new boat.

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

The Lord brought a story to mind.  After Paul’s conversion, he eventually returned to Jerusalem.  However, the believers there did not warmly receive him.  They were afraid of him because of his past efforts to round up and imprison believers.  Barnabas persuaded the disciples to let Paul stay with them (see Acts 9:26-28).  As a result of this intervention, Paul and Barnabas became fast friends.

On Paul’s and Barnabas’ first missionary journey together, John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin, went with them.  For an unspecified reason, John Mark decided while in Perga to return home to Jerusalem (see Acts 13:13).  It is speculated that the reason that John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas was 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, these two great missionaries were not recorded to see each other again.

By all accounts, these two disciples had experienced a very successful missionary journey.  Several churches had been started and many Gentiles were converted to Christianity.  Paul and Barnabas had come to depend on each other, through the many trials and dangers that 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 when and where they should go, the conversation turned to who should go with them, as they already had the answers to what they were going to present and how.  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 presumably rested and ready to do the Lord’s work.  They knew that the Lord wanted them to go on this journey together and all they needed was to work out a few more details.  Now they both were having to come up with Plan B’s.

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

Regardless of who was at fault, their argument was not over a doctrinal issue.  Rather 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 will not go off as planned and we have to quickly come up with other plans.  What is important during such times is to keep focused on the prize and 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.

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

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

Randy’s new boat before its maiden voyage

Categories : Devotionals

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