We all start out from somewhere. My friend Hillary once told me it is as if we all start out on a boat God assigns us to. Along the course of our life people are added to our boat. Our life takes shape by how well we behave in that boat as it moves along its course. I was especially struck by her viewpoint that for as long as we are in the boat together we are to take care of one another. We are especially responsible for those we intentionally invite aboard our boat. This invitation creates an even higher standard of care. I think I understand what my friend Hillary meant. She ended by saying if God let them on your boat he did it for a reason. Yours is to understand the reason why.
I have not always behaved well in my boat. I have driven people away when I felt crowded or overwhelmed. I have seen people approaching my boat and I have stoically turned my back on them, steering the boat away, usually because I was angry and displeased with their behavior. I have watched people swim along my boat with one hand touching the boat and the other hand used trying not to drown and though I did not let them on, I held out an oar until they could float. I did this mostly when I was teaching them to fish rather than giving them the fish. This is hard thing to experience when you are in the water not in the boat. If I was ever wrong I pray for God's grace.
The boat is a refuge. It is a place where people realize the comfort of their charter is not certain. The experience on the boat will get bumpy and it will come upon rough waters. There will be times when things will become choppy and turbulent. There will be times when depths don't seems to have bottoms. It will be tempting to want to blame others on the boat. To look around for someone or another to cast away. You might even want to move people around on the boat, shift positions. And even with this the environment remains the same. When everything else is tried you might even curse the boat itself and damn the very water it is on.
Our boat is supposed to be a refuge. A place where people come expecting peace and tranquility. A place where people on the boat know that they are on that boat together, no matter what. No matter what happens together is forever. Everyone working together to charter the best course. All oars in the water. No man left behind.
I wish we all saw the world as our boat. And when it comes time to dock you can hear that voice among the night stars, "In you I am well pleased." And you will know in your spirit you behaved well on that boat you were assigned to.