The Kayak Miracle: A Quarantine Story Of Courage


As you shine your brightest and embrace what God has called you to, a great cloud of witnesses will be cheering you on and your Harbor Home will be better because you did it. You absolutely can do it. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears" Psalm 34:4


Truthfully, the Covid 19 quarantine has not been much of a hardship at our Harbor Home. We have managed to continue our parish ministry using the telephone, email, texting and social media. Masks don't bother us much, and we love to cook and eat at home. We're aware that many people around the world have been devastated by this time, and we know how blessed we have been during Covid.


During the summer of 2020, three of our four children were actually able to travel to visit us with some of the grand children. I was so excited! Our Harbor Home is located on Lake Norman in North Carolina, so, of course the summers are spent swimming and boating and fishing. As an early childhood educator, I also planned science demonstrations, carefully selected our read aloud books and organized lots sing along time. It may have been a bit much, but I was going to make the most of this precious bit of time with each and every one of them. There was just one little glitch.


Paul, the first born of the twins and therefore our third grandchild, had had a series of unfortunate kayaking events during his eight summers of life. The stories are legendary in the family. One of them was so traumatic that Paul himself chronicled it in a deeply moving and illustrated second grade essay. Both the essay and the illustration were uncannily accurate considering that two years had passed since the incident and he wasn't wearing his glasses at the time. Clearly these ill-fated kayak moments made a deep impression on our Paul. Bless his heart.


As the summer trip drew near, Paul was most emphatic: he was not risking that kind of kayak catastrophe again, and no one could convince him otherwise. His beloved Aunt KK, his equally beloved Aunt Coco and his wonderful other grandmother, Nana, tried to remind him "if at first you don't succeed, etc." He was having none of it. I was a bit concerned.


Let me explain the gravity of this. In our family, kayaking is a high value. All boating is. It is right up there with learning to read, loving a good smoked brisket, and developing an appreciation for Indiana Jones. All the grownups considered how best to help Paul overcome his fear of kayaking. We discussed it in hushed, grave tones. I was, as his grandmother, really hoping we could work through this, and was willing to do almost anything to help.

Paul, his twin sister Ella, and their mother Erica visited over the Labor Day weekend. Their military father, Christian, was unable to travel due to Covid 19 restrictions. They were the last of the family to visit, and on one of those days, the twins and I had the afternoon to ourselves. The time had come.


In the water that day were a very dirty paddle boat and two battered kayaks. I invited the twins put on their life vests, hop into the paddle boat and go check the area for pirate activity. Paddle boats are very stable, so Paul had no problem with this suggestion. I would follow closely in a kayak. We all set out upon the water.


After several minutes Ella wanted to get in the kayak. She had not had any unfortunate kayaking events. We were not near the shore, but Ella and I managed to trade places so I was in the paddle boat with Paul and she was in the kayak. Ella tried to persuade her brother that kayaking was fun and safe and something that he could do if he would only give it another try. A little child was leading us.


Ella's input seemed to be swaying him. I held my breath and kept my mouth shut. This might work, but Paul's fear was clearly overwhelming. This was not a small thing. He was breathing hard, his little body was tense and his jaw was clenched. This was his David and Goliath moment.


"Okay." Said Paul almost to himself. "Okay, what?" I asked. "Okay I'll try again." He replied. "Well", I responded thoughtfully, "I suppose you have gotten a lot stronger and bigger since the last time..." He agreed. After several false starts and untold amounts of courage Paul took charge of the yellow kayak. I handed him the paddle, gave a few suggestions and pushed him off towards whatever would happen next. What happened next was that Paul began to kayak.


It was a rough start with a fair amount of flailing around and getting nowhere. But with a few minutes of effort, the kayak began to move forward with Paul well in control. The look on his face was beautiful to behold. Surprise, exhilaration, pride...it was all there, written on his eight year old face. He was accomplishing something he had been terrified of just fifteen minutes earlier. He had overcome his fear.


He began to shout triumphantly as we cheered him. What a change in him! We headed back toward the dock, keeping the paddle boat positioned so that Paul could see us even without his glasses. "I'm kayaking!" He yelled over and over. It was a real victory. Courage won the day.


Courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is feeling an overwhelming fear and making the decision to go ahead in spite of it. Fear comes at us from all directions and is a God given emotion that can protect us from danger. But the enemy also uses fear to keep us stuck.


Satan uses fear of change, fear of failure, or fear of frustration as one of his most potent weapons against us. We can, because of fear, stay stuck right where we are even though there are better things ahead for us. Fear can keep us out of the kayak even though the kayak is exactly where God wants and needs us to be. Satan loves it when we let fear stop us from doing what God has created us to do.


God may be calling you to do something that only you can do, yet you are filled with fear. Even if you have tried before and failed, remember this: the God that called you has provided you with the means to overcome this fear through the power of the Holy Spirit. Just get in the kayak. The thrill of doing it will wipe out the fear in a moment. You will find yourself shouting across the water, "I'm doing it! I'm doing it! I'm doing it" And you will be doing it. You will have done the hard thing because you can.


As you shine your brightest and embrace what God has called you to, a great cloud of witnesses will be cheering you on and your Harbor Home will be better because you did it. You absolutely can do it. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears" Psalm 34:4


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