She swims in the aquarium boldly now…this nondescript little Bluegill who came to me in an unexpected way. Darting amongst the larger fish, she swims unafraid—as undaunted as the name that I gave her…..I call her—-
But wait! I’m getting ahead of my story, folks. We have to start back at the beginning…Back to the spring of ’07–a rather trying time for me, I must say.
I went on vacation in the spring, leaving the farm for a couple weeks. When I returned, I was distraught. During my absence, my beloved Jon boat had filled up with water from the spring rains, and had disappeared into the murky depths of the pond. I was nearly beside myself!
How I loved that boat! How many summers had I spent drifting in idle abandon in that Jon boat? Ah–the memories of sunshine and carefree bliss while the waters sparkled and the fish splish-splashed about me….The disappearance of my Jon boat marked a new low in my life.
Every day, I stood on the banks of the pond and stared into the depths, as though doing so would somehow resurrect my beloved boat. “Lord,” I said. “You know exactly where that boat is and you can bring it back to me if You just would!”
But the Lord didn’t do a thing. Not a thing.
I couldn’t understand it. “Now, look Lord,” I said, with as much firmness as person can use when addressing the Almighty. “You raised the dead and turned water to wine and You even walked on water in a storm. You can surely do a miracle and raise a Jon boat from this pond. I have faith, Lord!”
But nothing happened.
I finally stopped trying to reason with Him. I’d just have to do something myself.
The-Lord-helps-those-who-help-themselves, right? I organized a boat-finding party and all the church kids came to help out. A very spiritual time of fellowship, it was. We swam and banged about with a search-rod in the depths of the pond. In the middle, on the sides… All to no avail.
The Jon boat was not to be found.
But I didn’t give up. I called upon our helpful neighbor, Dan, to rectify matters. If anyone could find a boat, it would be Skipper Dan.
The Skipper arrived in his pickup truck, pulling up to the banks of the pond. He got out his boat-finding gear. His canoe, his long pole, his hooks and tackle. He worked and sweated and fanangled the day away. But alas! Although the Skipper could navigate the tricky currents of the Mighty MO…he could cast hoop nets and wrangle with huge catfish and jumping Russian carp…Yet, not even Skipper Dan could find that Jon boat.
Eventually, I dithered into despair.
The summer had arrived and it would be a bleak summer indeed. My first summer without my beloved boat. It just wasn’t right. Not when I have such a big powerful God who fills the entire universe. How hard was it for Someone like that to return my beloved Jonny boat?
I questioned Him often about the matter. I sighed. I bargained. I explained that I had bulldog faith that could move mountains….Well, that could move Jon boats, at least. But nothing worked.
The days drifted into weeks and the weeks into months. The dog days of summer came and went. By now, I’d nearly given up on ever finding my Jon boat. No doubt Jonny was ruined by now, anyway. Buried beneath the mud at the bottom–full of debris and caked with slime.
Slowly, summer faded into autumn. My birthday was approaching, and the thought of it did little to cheer my spirits. At my age, it’s best to forget about birthdays….
And apparently, that’s exactly what everyone did.
The day of my 46th birthday arrived. It was a day like any other. There wasn’t a sign that anyone in my entire family had remembered my special day. No cake. No wrapped presents. No confetti or sparkle or balloons. Nada. Zip. Oh well. I would just forget my birthday, too. I’d be jiggered if I was going to tell anyone what day it was.
I sighed and went outside.
My feet automatically turned towards the pond. In times of distress, I always wander to the banks of the pond. There I stood staring out at the waters…lost in thought. I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular, that day. I don’t remember praying….but I felt a distinct impression come over me as I stood staring into the water.
Not knowing where I was going, I called to the dogs and set off toward the back of the property….toward that far end of the pond that ends up in a deep ravine. My stride was purposeful. I had no idea where I was headed, but I knew I had to walk and walk and walk.
I ended up at the very top side of the pond’s watery ravine….a swamp-like place where brush and logs littered the waters. A gloomy spot that’s almost impossible to reach by foot or by boat. I stood staring out across the swamp, wondering why I’d come.
What a place to go on your birthday, I thought gloomily. A skummy spot full of brush, rotting logs and decay. My eyes scanned the waters idly…my thoughts empty–yet I felt a strange sense of something else , too. What was it that I was feeling? And why in the world was I here?
With a sigh, I started to turn away. Then my gaze snagged on something half-buried beneath a foot of water. I looked at it for a moment, feeling mildly curious–my mind still blank and fuzzy.
Suddenly, the shadowy form in the water became distinct.
Like the sun popping over the horizon, it dawned on me… My Jonny Boat?
I could’ve cried. My thoughts whirled…questions swirled round and round in my brain…. Spinning. How…? Why…? Could it really be….?
I stumbled down the embankment toward the water. Yes–it really was the Jon Boat. The Lord had given me back my Jonny, and He had done it on my Birthday!… The day I’d felt so forsaken and dreary and forgotten! I laughed. I cried. I called to the dogs and we all rejoiced together…even though the canine sector had no idea what we were rejoicing about.
Amid the commotion, my teenage daughter came to the top of the ravine. She peered down on my situation in a lordly manner, then volunteered to help with the boat-recovery mission….
And help she did!
She found me an old bucket to use as a water-dipper. She bossed me effectively from the bank. She harpooned me in the gut with a long pole. “Mom!” she said. “You were in the way!”
She also explained to me that no one had forgotten my birthday. They’d been planning a surprise for me later in the day. Sheeeesh, Mom!
But that hardly mattered now. I’d found my Jonny boat. God’s in His Heaven and all is right with the world.
I began dipping the water out of the boat. I managed to get most of the water out and was inspecting the hull for damage when I spied something splish-splashing in the bottom of the boat.
It was a little Bluegill, flashing in the sunlight. I scooped her up with the bucket and carefully carried the little fish back to the house. Here was the proof that I needed…Proof that my Jon boat had, indeed, been totally submerged in water…And yet it had risen back to daylight. I’d found my Jonny on the very day that I needed it most.
Carrying the bucket back to the house, I carefully deposited the little Bluegill into the fish tank. She was my birthday gift from the Lord…she and my Jonny boat.
She makes me happy each time I look at her. And any time I begin to doubt that God answers prayer, I look over at that bit of quicksilver darting about the aquarium. Boldly, she swims amongst the larger fish, as brave and undaunted as her name implies.
I call the little Bluegill, Faith….
What a beautiful, heartwarming, exciting story about FAITH and a Happy Birthday! I could hardly wait–but I didn’t peek–to see the name of the Bluegill.
As so many of your stories, it makes you cry & laugh, & know that we have a God who cares about the little things in our life!
Thanks for another great story.
Thank you for so generously sharing, your life, your faith and some inspiration. In reading “of Boats and Bluegills” I am reminded how my own humanity tends to walk by sight and my own feelings. Even more importantly….how I tend to become discouraged and give up….when I dont have the answers. Your story brought me closer the shores of my own limitations.
Luke 5:4….Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
Your writing is at once poignant and painfully precise.
You have a recurring theme of paradise regained – almost. Life seems to fall just a little short of the dream. Joy is where you find it, Vic.
Right under your nose, like the little boat hidden in the water. You could have found it sooner if you REALLY wanted to. But you’d rather just write about it, about the search, the failure, the frustration, the success.
Is that what you think more readers will identify with? Perhaps you’re right. If so, you MUST tell the story of your adventures with Davy Crockett. You don’t have to tell who, or when, but you have to tell the whole story. the whole story. If you don’t, someone will………….
Where are you M’Dear! Are you married i am sure you are by now. IF you run across this, Drop me a line. I think of you often. Monroe wanted to exit A.S.N. S.A.P. No time for good-byes
No, dear…Not married yet. Things always take longer than Crazy Vic thinks they will. It’ll happen in God’s good time.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a good job now, and am having the time of my life in this “vacationland”. Every day is like a holiday…….Well—-almost! I can run to the beach any time I want. It’s only 5 minutes away. I love the palm trees and the raging surf. I feel like I live in the Bahamas!
I love to go beachcombing and pick up driftwood and pretty rocks. It makes me so happy!
Hope all is well in your world, Sis. Tell Monroe hello. If you have my email addy, write to me. If not, let me know through this site and I’ll give it to you.