The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
We found that as we neared the end of our trip, we had mixed emotions. We both let our minds wander back home to the pleasures and duties awaiting us there. Then we would remind each other, “We’re still on vacation, enjoy here and now.”
We left Luddington to make our way to Grand Haven. Grand Haven was a fun place to relax, a great spot for both boaters and landlubbers. The marina we stayed in was close to a row of specialty shops and the famed Musical Fountain show. The lighted water spraying in various shapes and designs garnered oohs and aahs from the audience. The selection of music was quite eclectic, from the theme from Space Odyssey: 2001 to a Country and Western tune to Hip Hop.
The next day, we just puttered around town. It was sort of melancholy day, because we knew things were coming to an end. We enjoyed an ice cream on the boardwalk, did one last round of laundry and then decided to eat in town. Too hot to cook. We found a bar and grill that made huge burritos. Les got the beef and I, the chicken. Smothered in cheese and a red sauce, this monstrosity was more than either of us could finish.
After dinner, Les checked the weather to see if we could cross the lake the next day. We decided to try, hoping the winds would wait until evening to pick up strength. We made the attempt knowing we could retreat to shore and head further south to Holland or Saugatuck. Our other back up plan was to try again on Friday, since the weather outlook was good.
The next morning, we hunkered down for the 90 mile run across the lake. I decided to drive first to keep my motion sickness to a minimum. As we travelled, the waves buffeted us, but we seemed to be making good time. We made it across about 20 miles, when we heard a clanking sound. We looked around inside the cabin. Nothing was making that sound. We slowed down to idle speed, so Les could check outside. The waves were pushing us to and fro, when he discovered that the roof rack that carries our bikes was coming loose.
I put the boat into neutral, while Les climbed on the side to secure the rack. Due to the rocking of the boat from side to side, I clenched my seat. Thinking my effort would help Les cling to the side of the boat, as I hoped and prayed that the wind wouldn’t knock him off. It was the most harrowing event of the trip. I kept praying. Finally, Les climbed back into the boat, announcing that all was secure.
I put on my bravest face, and asked if we should stay our course to cross the lake. Les came over to the GPS and showed me that we had 60 miles to go. He decisively suggested that we turn around; we were heading back to shore, veering southeast to Holland. I could have argued, but I didn’t really have the stomach or nerves to keep battling the waves. We had no idea if they would simmer down or get worse. It was one of those defining moments.
The meaning of repentance became very clear that day: change direction. Don’t stay on a reckless path. Get out of there. We knew that staying on the current course could cost the potential loss of the bikes. And even though pride tempted us to brave the waves and take the pounding, the firm voice of reason (aka, the Holy Spirit) told us to retreat, find refuge. Don’t be foolish.
That morning I had read the Scripture: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
We made it safely to Holland, which sits on Lake Manitowoc off of the main lake. We let down our anchor for the afternoon, praying for more wisdom. Les had checked the weather, and the forecast had changed from light and calm winds on Friday and Saturday to high winds with 2-4 feet waves. I decided to sit on the front of the boat and soak up the sun, the breeze and the peace of repentance.
Meanwhile, Les did his research and found out that he could catch the Amtrak in Holland; the station was only 1.5 miles from the marina we planned to stay at that evening. He also figured out that he could take public transportation once he made it to Chicago, to within a mile of the other marina, where we had parked the truck and trailer. He booked his ticket, and we made our way to the last stop of our trip.
In the morning, we walked together to the train station. After I saw Les off, I withdrew leisurely back to the boat to spend one last day reading, resting and relaxing in God’s presence.