I still can’t believe the foolishness of some people. I was watching two fishermen working their way north along the shore past the cottage where I was watching the storms roll in across Lake Michigan from the west.
The most fascinating and dangerous events of the shore is when the thunderstorms move in from the west and pound the shoreline. This was the last week of March, after an extremely cold winter. The ice had only disappeared earlier in the week. The day before I hadn’t seen any boats at all on the lake. Yet, there were the two fishermen in a twenty-one foot, low silhouette bass boat trolling the shoreline about two hundred feet out, just beyond the second sandbar on the shore. They must have been after the prized brown trout that come near shore this time of year. Admittedly, they are as delicious as fish can get when their flesh is crisp and firm from the cold winter water. Nevertheless, they are not worth dying for.
Anyone who knows Lake Michigan is aware of the danger of being caught on it when storms are coming. The shallow water, coupled with its smaller size causes the conditions to change very, very quickly. Usually people get in trouble when they are lulled into going out too far when it is quiet, and then get caught by the wild waves when the storms come up. The histories of shipwrecks on the lake cite this very reason for the problems that occurred. In many cases, lives were lost.
Storms and thundershowers were predicted all day. However, the day began with an east wind so that the edge of the lake was totally calm below the dunes. In the couple of hours I was watching, the wind increased speed and turned to the southwest, causing the waves to rise to three or four feet. The waves were coming in with brown coloring underneath because of the sand they were carrying after pounding the outer sandbar. The tops were gray and green covered with white froth as they broke on the shore. It was too early in the season for the coastguard to post warnings. However the conditions were obvious. Visibility was down to a half mile because of the fog and mist. At times, it was possible to see the thunderheads and lightning in the distance.
An hour later the boat went past heading back to the south. It was being pounded by the waves. At times you couldn’t see below the gunwales. At other times, it was airborne. The two fishermen were hunched over and wrapped in raingear. The waves were breaking over them. They had to shield their eyes from the rain. I can think of a lot more fun things to do than being pounded by near freezing water and wondering if I would have to beach the boat in order to get to safety. I hoped they would make it home.
In contrast to the danger for humans, the plants and animals of the shore are adapted to the storms. The animals move inland and seek shelter. Seagulls ride the air currents pushed upwards by the cliffs on outstretched wings looking at the flotsam, hoping that some tidbits would be washed ashore. The trees are usually short and bent from the wind. Pines are twisted into fantastic shapes. The deciduous trees are usually fine until they get to be taller. Then, they often have their branches broken or tops destroyed. If they continue to stand tall, at some point, they flop over when their leaves catch the wind like a sail. Of course, most plants just won’t grow in a spot where they can’t survive. I find it very interesting that plants and animals have more “sense” than man when it comes to danger.
I’ve known people like the fishermen who are just as foolish when it comes to temptation. O, they might confess that they are Christians. But, they are willing to endanger themselves spiritually by playing with temptation. They ignore the warnings of their family, friends and church. They pursue their sinful appetites and thrills thinking that they will be safe, that they will be strong. The storms come up and the waves of sin encompass them, and they flounder. Our Lord prayed, “Lead us not into temptation”. The only safe place, the place of protection, is in the sovereign care of our Lord. His grace protects us from the storms of life. The means He uses are our godly family and friends, who, with a faithful church where the Word is preached support and guide us. Yes, they also help rescue us when we fall into sin. How foolish are those so called Christians who think they can go it alone without joining themselves to a local congregation, which is where Christ dwells. Christ is the only hope we have of weathering the storms of life that will surely come.
The Plea of the Wayward Son
Pounded by waves,
Rocked by the wind,
My heart danger craves,
I know I have sinned.
Lord, save me from harm,
Ere the waves engulf me,
Thinking I had a life of charm,
Now I perish in the sea.
From Your presence I have fled,
Now on Your grace I plea;
My only hope is in the One Who bled,
Who died for a foolish sinner like me.
Keep me safe with friends and kin.
Speak to me on Sunday morn.
Help me know Your love again.
Cause my faith to be reborn.
Make me contented in Your will,
To find fulfillment among my brothers.
Keep me from chasing a cheap thrill,
Help me speak Your grace to others.
Protected I’ll have peaceful sleep,
When on my pillow my head does rest.
In His shadow the Lord will keep,
When storms oft’ my faith do test.
Deane Wassink April 20, 2003