Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 28

Matthew 8 v 23 – 27

Two things in life that my wife Jean did not like were camping and going on a boat. The only occasion I can recall of her being under canvas was on a family holiday to France when we drove across France to get to the South coast and stopped at camp sites on the journey there and on the return.

We borrowed a tent from a minister friend as we didn’t own anything suitable ourselves. I think it was a two person tent and there were five of us, accordingly we had to lie across the tent as opposed to length ways. This meant that I had to sleep across the doorway so that any creepy crawlies got me and the girls were safe inside. I also remember that it was particularly hot and sleeping in a hot tent was difficult which didn’t help the situation.

Fortunately, when we arrived at the holiday site the large static caravan that was our accommodation was excellent so the trauma of the camping was soon forgotten (until the journey home).

As for going on a boat was concerned I felt that I had greater success. In Austria, we stayed in a hotel on Lake Wolfgang, so the only practical way of visiting the towns and villages around the lake was by a boat, but it was a big boat and the lake was very placid so it was bearable.

However, I think the most memorable boating experiences came from holidays on the island of Tenerife, when on one occasion we had two days when sea journeys were involved.

The first adventure was to go whale watching. We attempted to book on the tourist excursions but the time slots available did not fit in to our itinerary, but we were lucky enough to get seats on an Australian research boat which could also accommodate a limited number of passengers on condition that we recorded the numbers of whales that we spotted.

As in Austria the boat was a big one so Jean was happy, (well sort of), to embark upon a whole day of sailing on the open sea. The sea was like a mill pond and in no time we were surrounded by pods of Dolphins and schools of Whales which were extremely photogenic. Also the sea was so clear that every detail of the animals was in high definition and the whole situation was an amazing experience. 

After the success of the whale watching sea fairing expedition, I suggested a second adventure across to a neighbouring island of La Gomera, some 32km (20 miles) away. Access to the island is on a commercial ferry which was a very big boat so confidence was high.

As the journey was about four hours it meant an early start but again the sea was like a mill pond and the sun was warm at 8.0 am.

The island was beautiful, mostly untouched by tourism and has escaped the onslaught of commercialism allowing the pace of life to almost reduce to a standstill. Not a McDonalds in sight but one or two small bars serving thankfully cold fruit juices. It was a perfect day and I was quietly congratulating myself on a great suggestion for the day out as we embarked on board the ferry for the journey back to Tenerife. In retrospect I should have noticed that loose chairs on the deck had been tied together and all passengers were being guided inside the boat.

In the hotel later we were told that the stretch of water between Tenerife and La Gomera can be unpredictable and they were right. It’s all down to the tide they said.

It started as we left the shelter of the small harbour and continued for the entire journey back to the much bigger harbour of Tenerife. I never knew a boat could achieve so many contortions and still sail in a straight line. I’m afraid that all my words of encouragement to Jean were to no avail and we were both thankful that our lunch was had been just a small sandwich and a fruit juice. The ship’s crew were totally unconcerned and went about their duties as if it was a cruise down a river.

Even when we disembarked our legs didn’t believe we were on dry land and refused to walk normally. And whose fault was it? I’m sure you can guess.

(Matthew 8 v 23 – 27)

The Sea of Galilee was notorious for erupting into a maelstrom due to squalls and storms without warning, and many fishermen had been caught out to their grief. Winds would sweep down the valley of the Jordon from the North and be squeezed through the narrow gap between the mountains onto the lake.

It was one of these occasions that took the disciples by surprise. They, along with Jesus were sailing from the West side to the East side and experienced the full force of the storm. The disciples were terrified and woke Jesus with frantic cries for help.

Jesus was calm and unaffected, calling for the wind to ease and the storm to cease and it became calm.

All disciples encounter storms sooner or later and at times it feels like we are taking on water to such an extent that we could sink, but what a comfort it is to know that Jesus is in the boat with us to calm and comfort us and guide us through to the other side.

No one can quell the storms of life like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jean did forgive me and we had a laugh about the experience later. I didn’t get her back in a boat again though, but we did go on a 4 x 4 off road experience up Mount Teide the island volcano and that was amazing, (well I thought so anyway), and not a tent or boat in sight.    

Derek T.