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THE HOUSEBOAT INCIDENT

When the unexpected happens, do you know what is REALLY important?

While in Southern California our family, consisting of myself, my wife Shirley, our fifteen year old son Jeff and our four year old son Joel, went on houseboat vacations three times to Lake Mead between Nevada and Arizona. For those who may not know — Lake Mead is a body of water formed by the Colorado River after it comes through the Grand Canyon.

Recently, I was in a store that had a picture posted of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon as it empties into Lake Mead, with its red colors and awe inspiring scenery. A customer nearby looked at the picture and said, “Wow, that is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.”

I spoke up, “Yeah it sure is, and I have actually been where that picture was taken.”

It reminded me of this story….

Houseboats are small mobile home-like structures mounted on pontoons. They don’t go very fast but they are a little like a small, not so luxurious yacht, in that they can sleep up to ten people or more and can take you anywhere you want to go on a body of water. They are ideal for family vacations. You can fish from them, explore the vast shoreline of the lake with them, dock them in quiet coves for the night and anchor and exit them for onshore adventures in the Nevada and Arizona deserts.

Each time we went out on the houseboat, we saw numerous kinds of wildlife; mule deer, mountain goats, coyotes, wild boar, to mention a few, and even a few wild donkeys.

Lake Mead can experience high winds. The lake isn’t very wide; however, its waves can get extremely rough when the desert wind comes up. One such time presented us with a scare that turned us around and forced us to go back into a protected cove to ride out the night.

On one of our trips, a storm was brewing as we were in the process of concluding our vacation. We were preparing to park our houseboat at the dock where we had rented it, but the wind was beginning to blow fiercely. Docking the boat really wasn’t hard in normal conditions, but the wind was making our task a difficult one.

Each time we tried to tie down, a blast of wind would blow the square-shaped high profile boat away from the dock. I was very concerned because there were danger possibilities for anyone in our family if they were pulled into the water while hanging onto a tie-down rope, or if one might be crushed between a post and the boat; say nothing of the steep costs associated with our fun trip if we allowed the boat to be damaged.

Shirley, Jeff and I were very focused on the issue of securing the houseboat while our younger son Joel was instructed to stay distant from the harrowing activity on a nearby dock.

At a certain point, however, Joel began to cry and scream loudly. It was hard to decipher what he was screaming about because of the wind and crisis we were captured by, and for any of us to let go of the ropes we were holding to attend to Joel’s cries would have meant certain damage to the boat, the dock and our family’s bottom line. But our four-year-old continued to cry and scream. Soon he began to run down the dock as he cried loudly pointing into the water. Finally, thinking that he was going to jump or fall in I let go of the rope I was holding onto to go save our son.

I ran over to him, knelt down next to him, grabbed him and asked in a bit of a panic, “Joel, what’s wrong?”

He continued to cry frantically and point at the water, “Your hat Daddy, your hat.”

I looked and sure enough, there was my hat floating in the water. In the excitement the wind had blown it off of my head without my knowledge and while all of us older family members were attending to bigger matters, our four-year-old was attending to matters he understood, and in his mind, were far more important than whatever it was we were doing.

It is a commentary on how captured we become with what we consider to be important, while we set aside the things that really matter. No, my hat didn’t matter so much to me, but my son did. And what he believed was important to him, was indeed, very important to him.

In the end, we secured the boat and no damage was done. But how often do we attend to issues in life that we think are important while the concerns that carry the greatest weight go unattended to; such as our spiritual conditions, our spouses, our children. Do you know what is really important in life? Are you in tune to what matters? Are you distracted by the noises and concerns the world considers to be important; or are you in touch with the cries of the really important matters that are right beside you?

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (kind).” Ecclesiastes 12:13

I would love to hear from you! Email me: chris@chrisschimel.com or Facebook.

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