Early In our marriage we went on a vacation to Hawaii with some friends. We spent the first half of the week exploring the Big Island. We hiked over lava fields, tasted rich Kona coffee and snorkeled with the sea turtles in Waikoloa. As our friends headed back to Houston, we stayed behind for a few more days of fun. The last couple of days of the week were spent zooming around Waikiki on our rented mopeds, checking out Pearl Harbor and going on hikes through the jungle. We even tried our hand at bodyboarding at Waikiki Beach. No one warned us about the reef, though, and we quickly turned in our boards once hands, knees and pride were scraped up by the skeletons of those ancient sea creatures.
We also had booked a couple’s parasail excursion as well. We arrived with great anxiety and excitement. On the fairly large speedboat there were about 10 of us who were going to see Oahu from the air. Once out almost a mile or so from the shore we all took turns in single or double parasail trips, spending about 5 minutes or so floating above the cobalt blue ocean with the island as a backdrop. Simply beautiful. It was finally our turn as we ended up being the last run of this particular trip. What we had not paid attention to was the weather. Unbeknownst to us a decaying hurricane was heading westbound and arrived over Oahu as we were ascending. Once we were in the air we got a minute or two of unbelievable sights but then things turned sour. The sky darkened, rain lightly fell and the wind sharply increased. We didn’t feel too scared at this point but we were thinking more about enjoying this ride before the wind dramatically increased and the usually languid tether from the boat snapped taut. I won’t lie to you, I was scared. But then things got even scarier. As we were looking down wide eyed and hopeful at our guides below we were not met with comforting nods or friendly waves. Instead we saw the crew scurrying about the boat, making all on board don their life jackets and the captain feverishly ramping up the throttle to try and keep the boat from being blown out to sea by the strong waves force against boat and the wing against the parasail. You see, we were like a giant sail and the wind was pulling the boat further and further from the shore. We saw the deckhand striving to winch us in so that they could get the sail brought down and then the boat’s engines could power us back to the safety of the shore. But the wind was so strong at this point that the winch was not pulling the parasail towards the boat but rather was winching the boat towards the parasail. Panic in the eyes of the crew and the others on board just deepened our own fear. At this point we had been in the air the longest of any of the other adventurers, but not under the circumstances we could have hoped for. Finally the captain came up with a plan. We were in the air and of course had no idea what was going on down below. All we could do was pray and know that it was all in the captain’s hands…and of course in God’s hands. We felt ourselves slowly falling towards the ocean, and our hearts sped up. The captain was actually backing the boat up, in the direction of the parasail. And the slack in the line was causing us to fall towards the deep blue water. The rope caught up again and we leveled off. And once again the captain reversed the boat towards us, all the while the deck hands winched in the parasail. To us in the air, it seemed to be dangerous and without reason. To those in control of our parasail, it was the only way. Finally, after about 20 minutes of struggle, we landed on the back of the boat, and the captain zoomed towards the shore as rain pummeled our faces.
I tried to remain calm during the whole ordeal, I did. But I won’t tell you I wasn’t in panic mode. I know that my bride was crying and pleading for God to protect us. I was quietly, tearfully, praying for God to either save us or make our demise as quick and painless as possible. In the moment, we both felt like the only options were a limited life as a result of shark attack and or a death of drowning in the Pacific Ocean. But let’s review the whole scenario. The parasail was actually the thing that was putting us in danger. The boat was perfectly capable of handling everything else that was going on. The crew was experienced enough to think clearly, even when things were not going as expected. And in fact, we both had life vests on, which means that even if we landed in the water, we would have floated and the parasail would have been no longer an issue to the boat and the crew would have easily been able to maneuver around to pick us up.
Was this event preventable? Maybe. Was it a disaster? Not really. Did we feel in those minutes that our lives were going to end? Yes, honestly, we did.
I share this story with you to let you know that in life we will have troubles. But we also are not required to walk through this life alone. We can walk in the power of the God who created us. We have a hope beyond this life, and we should enjoy this life but we should not regret going to the next destination. That is unless we don’t know where the next destination is. You can know, you can be assured. You only need to trust that there is a God who loves you. And that He is wholly holy, unable to be around sin. And unfortunately for us, all of us have sinned, every single one. But God knew that we would not be able to be perfect when given free will, so He sent His son Jesus to live out that perfect life we could not. And when He was incorrectly beaten and hung to die on a cross, He bore all the punishment for our sins. Then He rose from grave to defeat the power of death, which is the result of sin. And in Him, in putting our faith in Him, we have the ability to be with our Creator, with our God. And when we Know Him, we have the hope of our eternity beyond this life. And that means we don’t have to be afraid of death, but that it is the means of instantly arriving into the presence of our Lord.
When you’re in your crisis of belief, when you’re in the para-sail of life and the decaying hurricane is blowing you out to sea, trust that God is in control and that you don’t have to be afraid of what is to come. Rest in Him in that moment and know that nothing you are going through is too much for God!