In the first year of our marriage, Michael had a Husband of the Year idea that we would get out of town for one weekend a month. Of course, if you know us, you will instantly know that he had to create a spreadsheet for that. We are a couple who spreadsheet our holidays in three-hour intervals.
Not every location would’ve made a social media audience envious. Had social media existed in our life back then, we would’ve checked into coastal bungalows, mountain B&B’s and campground locations. (Mysteriously, our tent went missing after that one.)
Our houseboat weekend was the most distinguished entry in the spreadsheet. A cutesy 2-berth floating caravan down the spectacular Hawkesbury River in May. Sunny afternoons were spent reading magazines in bed while eating a round of camembert. Footy on the radio with a line over the edge into the glassy waters. In the late afternoon, we just pointed to a secluded cove, named it ours and hooked ourselves up to a mooring. Our room for the night shared only with kookaburras and the unexpected flying fish.
We arranged to spend the next day with some family who jumped on board to share an idyllic day where we caught and released all types of river life unsuitable for the frypan. As the sun got lower in the sky, we rowed them back to dry land and waved a royal HMY Britannia wave goodbye.
Anticipating we’d find another perfectly secluded inlet to moor our vessel, we pushed hard on the throttle estimating we make it past the river bend by houseboat curfew: dusk. Glass of wine, anyone? In the time it took to sip a glass, it seemed we had hardly moved from our location of 15 minutes ago. A check of the throttle concluded we did have it at full tilt, however, against the tide, 25 horsepower loses a lot of its influence. To be honest, I reckon a German engineered Thermomix would’ve done a more efficient job.
Another 15 minutes down the river and we had made little ground/stream. It was dusk, and we were far from our desired location. We decided to play against the rules and keep putting downstream and stretch the definition of dusk, but it turned out that it’s hard to navigate in the dark without headlights. We let sunset have its way and utilised the option of an anchor. We think it made it to the bottom and we were probably steady. Most likely it would be alright.
I stood up on the deck. We were in a fast flowing channel. The stern side was the M1 freeway helping large semi-trailers transport their freight. Bow side is the iron railway bridge with the regular train service from Sydney to the Central Coast. Starboard is where the national park meets the river with a confusion of boulders, sand, and stringy bark trees. I was so angry at four-stroke outboards for their complete incompetency.
We hardly slept. It was as if one of us was standing sentry all night against a failing anchor. The rocks looked closer at 3 am than an hour before. There were noises that sounded like the boat was scraping along the shoreline. I thought I heard water trickling into the cabin from a hole in the floor. It was so windy I couldn’t trust my ears.
At the break of day, everything resolved itself and we left our campsite for a breakfast location without the company of road trains or locomotives.
All the trauma of this night could be blamed on one single thing; anchor-doubt. We had no confidence in its weight, strength, length or attachment. This meant the number of maritime issues to be explored at 2 am were multiplied by tidal flow, down winds, current changes and affixing technique. That is a complicated spreadsheet, people!
If an experienced skipper was on board, we would have outsourced our concerns and entrusted the technicalities of a Bahamian Moor or a Kedge Drop to someone who had a clue. We were left alone to our own naïve and ignorant devices. There were no dramatic consequences that couldn’t be rectified with a mid-morning nap, but it wasn’t an enjoyable evening. The symbolism of an anchor being stability and strength during our ‘storm’ made no change to our experience. We had trust issues galore.
It doesn’t take much for me to feel that this life is turbulent. I acknowledge my upper-middle-class, suburban lifestyle should remain silent in a debate about life’s difficulties. Putting all the obvious comforts of city life aside, there are anxieties and pain that challenge me to tears. We all have our suite of blustery emotions that knock us about.
Our trust issues with Christ during these times are pinned to the mast.
His offer is one of refuge.
Our challenge is to find him trustworthy.
His offer is for hope in the disturbance.
Our challenge is to lay aside all other confidences and give up our agonies.
His offer is to grab hold of an unbreakable spiritual lifeline
Our challenge is this…
Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.