I thought I could direct my own life, until our fun day of fishing spun out of control.
It started out as such an ordinary day. Zayn, Vadim, and I had been looking forward for weeks to a day of trolling for salmon, and our spirits were high as we launched the Suzy Q. The sun was shining and just a slight breeze tugged at our clothes as we rounded the spit and headed for the open sea.
The morning brought only moderate success, so about noon we decided to pull in our lines and eat lunch. We dug into the ice chest for turkey sandwiches and helped ourselves to some coffee warming on our portable stove.
“Hey, let’s go out farther to try our luck,” Vadim suggested. Zayn and I scanned the horizon. I noticed that the waves were beginning to roll a little more heavily and the wind was picking up. But there was nothing that could cause any problems for experienced fishermen like us.
As we worked our way farther out into the Pacific, Zayn and Vadim’s conversation took a familiar turn—to a wavelength I just couldn’t identify with. Vadim was telling how God had helped him make a certain decision, and how much he depended on the Lord’s guidance. I gave an exasperated sigh and pointedly turned my back on them, but they didn’t seem to notice, so I tuned them out.
I had long since decided that I didn’t need God telling me what to do. How could He know what I wanted to do with my life? I could handle things without any direction or help from Him—I was sure of it.
A fierce gust of wind slapped at my jacket, and suddenly my thoughts came back to what was going on around me. I was jolted by the realization that the slight breeze which had been blowing as we started out was quickly becoming a full storm. It hit Zayn and Vadim about the same time, and their conversation ceased abruptly as we hurriedly started pulling in our lines. In just moments, waves had begun to crest and to crash around us. All thoughts of fishing departed, and we concentrated on heading for shore.
A bone-jarring wave accompanied by an ominous tearing sound set me rushing to the stern of our boat. To my horror, I saw that the gas tank was breaking loose. If it did, it would shut off the fuel supply to our engines—and engine failure meant sure disaster in these raging waters. I shouted for the others, but they were busy at the bow of the boat, and the roar of the wind made it impossible for them to hear me.
Then disaster struck! One of the engines stopped!
I was completely paralyzed with fear. My mind seemed to go blank, and I stared unmoving at the silent engine. I simply did not know what to do.
Suddenly the question came to my mind: Could I decide how to get out of this one on my own, or was I ready to ask God for help?
The boat jerked about and gas from the loosened tank splashed onto my arms. A sense of helplessness surged through my being.
“O God, help me!” I cried, not caring if the whole world heard me. In that instant of time, I realized I really needed Someone to guide me. Things were beyond my control.
I thought that we’d had it. But suddenly, just as if a Voice was speaking to me, I knew what I had to do. I turned off the stove—the spilled gasoline could turn our boat into a flaming bombshell in seconds. I tied down the gas tank. Then I moved to help Zayn and Vadim try to maneuver our boat toward shore with the one remaining engine.
We couldn’t do it. We had lost our steering power and were helpless. But then it seemed a guiding Hand took over at the helm. A large wave bore down on us. Instead of smashing us to pieces, it tucked around us, swung the bow into the waves, and then seemed to give us a boost toward the shore.
We made it to safety that day. And I learned a lesson I have never forgotten—I need God to be in control of my life and to be my Guide.