Or Captain Carradine and the Things I Cannot Change
If you’re reading this, chances are you already follow Born Again in Blue Water on Facebook. And if you follow us on Facebook, chances are you already know how great Amy and I are finding the Bahamas to be. You’ve seen the beautiful photos, you’ve heard about the opportunities God has presented us to minister to others, and you’ve read my accounts of sailing across the indescribable Bahamian waters. What you haven’t seen, and what can’t be expressed in the brevity of a Facebook post is how this place makes you feel. What it does to your soul.
Or maybe I should say, how this place makes me feel, and what it does to my soul. Because while it’s hard for me to imagine, I’m sure there are those who would find this place, this way of life, utterly intolerable. People for whom the convenience of a Quarter Pounder far outweighs any deserted, white-sand beach. People for whom the comfort of air conditioning on a hot day takes priority over an unparalleled view of the Milky Way on a moonless night. Those who find a fast internet connection and unlimited electricity more important than a chance to see dolphins frolicking at the bow.
And that’s alright! As long as our first priority is to be more like Jesus every day, and all of our decisions are aimed at that goal, we can align the remainder of our priorities however we see fit.
The stripped-down, no frills, island-hopping life that Amy and I are currently living has no more or no less potential to bring glory to God than a typical break-neck, jam-packed, noise-filled urban life. Both lifestyles have their distractions and their opportunities to be overcome or seized upon as the case may be. I find it necessary to point this out so that my readers are not left with the impression that I’m advocating this unorthodox path we have taken as the “correct” path, or the “only” path.
I was accused a while back of being “arrogant” in my writing. I was told that I “thought I had it all figured out” since I left Monmouth. I felt the criticism was unfair, but if one person felt that way, perhaps others do as well, so let me be clear: While I will stand by assertion that most Christians would be more Christ-like if they would slow down and remove much of the busyness from their lives, I am not trying to suggest that what we’re doing is more godly that what others are doing. I’m simply sharing what this journey has done for me, and the convictions that God has instilled as a result.
But back to how this place makes me feel. Here it is in a word: Serene.
With my background in recovery, both my own and leading others through, the word “Serenity” has long been frequently used in my vocabulary. We alcoholics and addicts use it at least once a week at our meetings. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Every meeting is closed with the Serenity Prayer.
And what a great thing to ask God for, right? Yes, it is! Of course the problem with the Serenity Prayer is the same problem we run into with the Lord’s Prayer, or the Pledge of Allegiance, or anything else that we memorize then recite on cue at regular intervals. It can become meaningless. Words uttered out of habit without any contemplation of their meaning. It takes a very concerted effort to prevent this from becoming the case.
So let’s contemplate exactly what it means to ask God to give us the serenity to accept things we can’t change.
Have you ever been foolish enough to ask God to give you patience? That prayer never gets answered the way we think it will. God doesn’t way His hand over our head and suddenly we’re a more patient soul, does He? No! He brings about things in our life that will help us to develop patience. He brings trials, challenges, idiots, plumbing.
Likewise, when we ask God for serenity, He doesn’t reach for his magic wand. Instead he brings about things in our life over which we have no control. And folks, if you ever want to dramatically increase the number of things in your life over which you have no control, I highly recommend living on a sailboat at sea outside your home country during a global pandemic!
I know what you’re thinking: Sure Russ, it’s easy for you to talk about serenity out there on a boat in the Bahamas. Ok, point taken. It’s 6:30am, the sun is just starting to illuminate the day. There is a cool ocean breeze blowing through the cockpit where I sit with my freshly brewed coffee and my Bible. The only sounds are the gentle lapping of waves against the hull of Born Again and the occasional cry of a gull. That certainly is conducive to a feeling of serenity. But I’m not talking about a fleeting emotion created by circumstances.
I’m talking about over and over and over again, seeing circumstances turn for the worse (contrary to my desires), only to realize God had a blessing in store the whole time. Of course God has been doing this in my life since I began to follow Him 23 years ago. And of course He does it in the lives of all of His followers. But lately it’s become more noticeable to me than ever, and through that, He has granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Maybe it took the change in scenery for me to see it more clearly, but whatever it was, it has allowed me to sit here on a small craft in the Bahamas in the heart of hurricane season and not worry about the weather. Of course I’m still watching the forecasts carefully and will take whatever prudent steps are necessary to protect Amy, myself, and the boat, but I know that in the end, even if we lose the boat, it will be because God has something better for us. And even if we don't see it as better, it is!
I guess what I’m saying is that the knowledge that God is in complete control has left being something that I know primarily in my mind, and has begun to really play itself out in my life and my decisions like never before. I know the impetus for it is related to this beautiful place that God has led us to, and that He wants to use the sea, and sailing, and the Bahamas to reveal even more of Himself to me in the weeks, months, and years to come.
What this all means to you is that you won’t recognize me the next time you see me. My countenance will be so serene that you’ll think to yourself, “Oh look, there goes a Shaolin Monk.” Not! It’s still me. It might take a minute (or an hour, or a month) for me to get over my flesh when things go awry. I can still be shaken. But the whole point of following Jesus is not perfection. If we could attain that, we wouldn’t need Him. The point is growth. And this is where God is currently growing me.
I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post. I don’t write them very often, but if you want to make sure you get the ones that we do write (Amy writes them even less frequently), subscribe to our page so you get them sent directly to your inbox. If you would like to know more about the path Jesus has led me on, you can read my full testimony here.
If you would like to help us in our goal to shine the light of Jesus to the Caribbean cruising community, you can lift us up in prayer, and you can support us financially.
Our current prayer requests:
• That God would open up doors of opportunity for us to build relationships and share His love. This has occurred on a small scale so far. We have built at least one important relationship everywhere we’ve been. Scott in Canaveral, Matt and Nancy in Marathon, and Craig and Roxanne in the Bahamas. There have been many other meaningful connections, but these three stand out.
• That God would continue to bless our marriage as we learn to live with each other 24/7. It’s going well, but it’s an adjustment, and it can be difficult to give one another space when there's so little space.
• That God would steer this year’s hurricanes away from Born Again.
Thanks for joining us on our journey!
Fair winds and following seas to you all!