Woven Blessings
Fall 2003

by Sheri L. VanDuyn

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My family has always enjoyed summertime by going to the water. Since Lake Michigan was close, we would take evening dips to cool off after those hot summer days. Swimming lessons were a must. We learned at a young age to respect the big Lake. Undertows, now called rip tides, would be the reason cited for drowning. The swimmer tries to swim opposite the current when he should go with the current. Tiring from swimming the wrong way, the current usually takes the person under. Today flags are flown at beaches to show swimming conditions – with red for danger, yellow for caution, and green for great swimming conditions.

We always loved boating to go for rides, tubing, or water-skiing. We always wore orange life jackets when I was young and later I insisted that my own children wear their "boat coat" when going on the water. Safety first on the water has always been the key to a fun day at the beach or on the boat.

I will always remember one night out on the water. I was newly married and we joined my parents for the maiden voyage of their new big boat. Since my Dad had not taken this boat to their home yet, we met at the marina for its first cruise. We had a wonderful ride on the water, but coming back into the slip, we were shaken and confused by the search of a water rescue team. There were divers in the water with a crowd gathering by the docks. We were not allowed to pull our boat into the slip. We circled for what seemed forever, but shortly after a diver handed the lifeless body of a 6-year-old boy still in his P.J.’s into the rescue boat. At the same time, I heard a blood-curdling scream of the Mother and saw the Father pounding his fists on the dock box. We pulled into the slip, tied up; then we heard that the family had put the children to bed and went to visit on another boat. The youngster must have awakened and when he did not find his parents there, he proceeded to try to get off his boat and go look for them. He must have missed the dock and fell into the water. I shall never forget the wailing of that Mother or the crying of the Father.

Thankfully, for us boating on the water has always been a fun family time. I would like to continue by using boating as an analogy of life.

Life is like the winds that fill your journey. Friends, teachers, and parents are the dock masters or sail makers that will guide or chart your course. God should be at the helm of the wheel. You will hopefully go into many ports or bodies of waters to live, to study, to visit, or to work. Being flexible with the winds or weather can guide you into a new direction.

A compass can be your best tool to rely on. While this small device can only tell you where you are going, it does not tell you when or where to go. Use your Bible, reading the pages carefully to guide you as you chart your course.

Your path will always be marked with buoys of caution. The weather here and anywhere can change with the blink of an eye. All sailors know when to set anchor or head into a safe port especially when storms arise. Be advised that you might need to take time to radio for help if necessary. Keep your balance on top deck and ask for advice when charting your course. Remember that everyone gets seasick from time to time.

Calm waters are the fabrics of your sails. Remember you are sea vessel worthy, even if you insist on remaining a landlubber for the majority of your life. May your spinnaker sail always be filled with the encouragement of family and loved ones. Sometimes it is just safe to travel on water where you can always see shore. You might never actually venture far from your homeport, but if you do travel on large bodies of open water or have a change in direction; remember to have God travel with you as your Captain.

May prevailing winds always fill your sail.

"A tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong."
James 3: 4

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