Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Man UP, Boat DOWN


Man UP, a weekly gathering of Leesburg Grace men, has become my favorite hour of the week. Every Monday night I send a mass text to our group. Location, theme, and items to bring appear in the message. Men arrive early in the next morning with crust in their eyes and Bibles in their hands. They leave with a shared experience and corporate challenge. This morning they left with wet pants.


Our rendezvous point was the Boathouse restaurant. From there we crossed a bridge and came to a pontoon boat I'd secured a few days earlier. During my crash course in boating, I couldn't help but notice the weight panel over the steering wheel: Limit 8 people OR 1060 pounds. I told the owner I was bringing eight men aboard, and our median weight eclipsed two hundred pounds. The math added up to a sinking ship. The owner assured me the figures were a suggested guideline, a golden rule.

The men climbed aboard timidly. Dave said, "I always make boats sink." I admitted the transport might not start, for the owner had told the me the evening that he'd flooded the engine. We prayed, and boat roared to life. After a quick stop to pick up a straggler from a nearby pier, I shoved the throttle forward. The target was the center of Winona Lake, where we would enjoy some public Bible reading.

But my plans took a sudden nose dive. We had not dispersed our more-than-1060-pound human cargo evenly. The front of the boat submerged; water rushed onto the deck. "Come to the back," someone shouted. The men cleared the bow and rushed the stern; the boat raised up. Nervous laughter filled the air.
We proceeded with our readings. Each man bellowed a verse over the murmuring water and groaning engine. We read Mark 6:45-52 and 2 Samuel 22. A few times we had to shout, "Speak UP!" because the reader's voice did not register with enough authority. Godly men must learn to Speak UP. Finally, every man chose his favorite verse from 2 Samuel 22 and sounded his barbaric yawp.
  • The Lord is my Rock!
  • The Lord draws me out of deep waters!
  • With my God I can jump over a wall, I can rush upon an army!
  • I will call upon the Lord; He will save me from my enemies!
  • In my distress, I call upon the LORD. He hears my voice!
The exercise was cathartic. It sealed in our hearts the belief that God cares, guards, attends, and delivers. This belief came in handy a few minutes later when the engine of the boat died.

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