We had planned a camping trip in April but we caught some sort of diabolical cold and between the two of us we were sick for nearly 3 weeks.
So, when we were finally settled into our campsite in Ft. DeSoto Park in sunny south St. Petersburg, we were happy that we had finally made it.
The get-away time was supposed to be for total relaxing, some fishing and a lot of kayaking. But we were too busy chasing raccoons our of our tent to relax, and it was way too windy for much in the way of fishing or kayaking.
This is just one of our many “house guests”. . . . People feeding the raccoons has made them fearless and insistent in their efforts to gain access to any food that is in or around your campsite. This old lady we named “Stumpy”. She had many battle scars, evidence of recent children and was minus her tail.
In spite of all of our daily visitors and the winds that blew like crazy, we did manage to take the yaks out one day to paddle from the rest area just south of the Skyway bridge to Rattlesnake Key, a fairly large key south of the Skyway. It was quite a trip across the open water between the Skyway and the key, a total distance of about four miles.
Four miles isn’t a great distance to paddle, but the open water of lower Tampa Bay can be sloppy, especially when the winds are gusting at times to 25 to 30 MPH.
It took us about an hour to make it across to the place where Skip had been some years ago. When we got there, we spent about an hour roaming along the beach. For most of the day, there was not another boat in sight. We were totally alone. It was at times disconcerting yet invigorating. The only sounds were the sounds of the birds that were along the shore. So far from any roads, phones or other voices. . . .
Then the even rougher trip back across the bay. ….. Skip taking the more direct line across the bay but since my yak doesn’t ride well in rough water unless I am heading bow first into the waves, I had to take a longer trip. But once I got across the open water I was able to turn and ride the waves north along the shore until I reached the small bridge that we had to go under to get back to where we had put our yaks into the water.
It was during my solo paddle across the bay that I began to think of all of the very godly people whom I have known in my life, wonderful godly people who have influenced me over the years and I thought of 1 Peter 5, where the Apostle Peter said, “I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but willingly; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves examples to the flock. When the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the crown of glory that doesn’t fade away. Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you.”
And I remembered reading recently about an 18th Century English preacher who pastored a small church in Loughwood, England. Compared to the large churches today his small congregation would not have impressed anyone. I think the article about Pastor Isaac Hann said that is total membership was less than 35, and most of the regulars were women.
God has a problem with pride. And here was a man who might not even be considered successful in today’s world, yet when he died at nearly 90 years old, he was remembered by his congregation as a humble man. They hung a plaque in the small church that honored his humility and in part it reads, “Few ministers so humble were, yet few so much admired: Ripened for heaven by grace divine, like autumn fruit he fell; Reader think not to live so long, but seek to live as well.”
As I paddled against the waves, I was made enormously aware of how small and insignificant I was. And I talked to the LORD as I paddled and became even more aware of His love for me.
Amazing love, how can it be, that God would come and die for me. . . .
If that won’t humble you, nothing will!
Dear LORD, Even if I resist and do not humble myself before You, my efforts here on this earth regardless of how determined, humble me. All of my energy is insignificant in the shadow of Your greatness. Work deep in my heart to create in me what You will. Your grace and mercy overwhelm me. In Christ and by the power in His Name, I pray, Amen.