Hope to Carry On: February 23, 2024

Lenten Devotional Book 2024

Read: 1 Peter 3:18-22

“…when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.” – 1 Peter 3:20

When considering Noah’s ark, I think about sailing towards a particular port or destination. As sailors, we try to prepare for all eventualities – topping off drinking water and fuel supplies plus traveling with up-to-date maritime charts, life jackets, and proper foul weather gear. We enjoy having our first meal prepped and ready for reheating. Shep and I have sailed with our children, grandkids, friends, and, back in the day, our racing crew. We’ve even sailed with our pet cats.

Among all my memories, one stands out above all the others. We were sailing from the Everett Marina towards Hat (Gedney) Island and checking out everything on our fairly new sailboat. The day was lovely. Randy, one of Shep’s students, was aboard as our “deck ape” crew. Kelly, our young daughter, and Geoff, her tagalong 3 year old brother, were also aboard. Our children knew the drill. If they were anywhere other than the cabin, life jackets were required. So there we were – the sun was shining and we were kicking back and living the good life; the kids were below deck in the cabin. Suddenly Randy shouted that Geoff was overboard and Randy jumped in right after him into that very cold water. Suddenly, “man overboard” was no longer a safety drill. Shep managed to wrestle the boat around and we headed back the way we’d come.

When we reached them, Shep dealt with the tiller and our position while Randy lifted Geoff up to me and I got him on board. Then I hauled Randy up and out; the average water in Puget Sound averages somewhat under 50°F. Randy was a grown man and my ability to pull him on board is still something of a mystery. Did I mention neither Geoff nor Randy was wearing a life jacket? Did I mention a sailboat doesn’t spin on a dime? Did we realize that the kids would figure out how to climb up through the forward hatch and we wouldn’t notice? Let me tell you about ‘hope’ as we circled back to search for and retrieve Randy and Geoff. The time it took for the rescue still seems elongated – taking days, not minutes. Would we find them? Were they underwater? Were they alive? Hope, fear, and dread were my companions.

On this day, hope overcame all. This was a short afternoon sail – not a sail for 40 days. We had no menagerie, not even a kitty. We didn’t have to have enormous amounts of food on board. Yet I’m left with a glimmering of what that long-ago ark voyage was like and how it succeeded. I think I understand some of the worry and fretting that was present among all the passengers. I know about desperately hoping and then discovering that ‘hope’ is a more faithful companion than ‘fear’ or ‘dread.’ Imperfect know-it-alls that we sometimes are, God lifts us up through hope and that’s when we truly discover the ‘good life.’ I agree with Father Paul who said when “there’s a rough spot on the sea, there’s smoother sailing ahead.”

Thank you for the hope that there is always smoother sailing ahead. Amen.
-Sue Shepherd