Dear Family and Friends at Trinity,

   If all goes as planned, at the end of October my friend, also named Penny (long story), and I will be floating on the Mississippi River on a steam driven paddleboat. Of course if not all goes as planned I will be sitting in my pink house feeling sorry for myself!

  I love the riverboat cruises. I also loved the ocean cruises-except for one minor detail. I got seasick on the ocean liners and I decided it didn’t make sense to pay $5-6,000 to be sick.  I don’t get sick on the riverboats.

I have taken several of the Mississippi River trips but one in particular stands out.  Our group took a bus from Truman to St. Louis (Alton) where we were to get on the boat and come back north to Red Wing.  The very first night of our trip, there was a meeting with the Captain-not the usual “Welcome Aboard” party but a meeting.  The Captain very apologetically explained that he was sorry but he could not take us north because the water levels were too high; we would not be able to get under the bridges; however he would take us south.  While there were many very angry and upset people, I was fine with the plan. I was on the boat, having fun, and I had never been to Paducah.  However, the next night there was another meeting with the Captain  who explained he could not take us south, the water was too low. It seems our boat was ‘stuck” in the area of the river between St. Louis and Hannibal, Missouri, destined, it seemed to travel in figure “8s” or circles!

 Life feels like that sometimes too doesn’t it-stuck between two places, or people, or situations, or decisions. You can’t go north and you can’t go south; the best it appears you can do, is run around in circles.

 Centuries ago the Israelites found themselves in a similar situation.  They had fled Egypt, leaving behind years of slavery and oppression. They had a destination-the Promised Land.  They had a route. They had a plan.

But then they found themselves in a serious and dangerous situation.  They couldn’t go forward. The Red Sea was in their way.  They couldn’t go back. Pharoah’s army was advancing upon them from that direction.  They had one option and that was to trust God.  Moses told his people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today….The Lord Himself will fight for you, Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13). And of course, God did just that. He opened the sea before them and eliminated the army behind them.

  Perhaps when we find ourselves caught, not able to go forward or backward, we need to heed Moses’ advice to his people.  Wait. Stand still.  Trust God to open a way for you.  This involves prayer, and serious Bible study.

It is a time for heartfelt worship, and even, as strange as it might seem, praise.  It is surrender to the will and the power of God in your life. It is believing the promise of Jesus, “I am with you always”. (Matthew 28:20).

It is taking God at His word, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown, when you walk through the fires of oppression, you will not be burned up, for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Exodus 43:2-3)

Is it easy? Not always. Do we finally get where we wanted to go or do what we wanted to do? No necessarily.

Why? Because God may have a better place and a better plan for you-“plans for good and not for disaster; to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).


When we realized that there was nothing we could do to change our course, Penny and I accepted the fact that we simply had to trust the captain of our boat to keep us safe, and get us somewhere, and in the meantime, all we could do, all we had to do was trust him, and enjoy the ride.

   Perhaps when in our lives we find ourselves running in circles, that is what we have to do as well; let go of the plans we had made and trust our Captain to see us through, who promises, “In those days, when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by You, and I will restore ….” (Jeremiah 29:13b-14)  Bon Voyage!


Pastor Penny





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