This post was written by guest blogger Ginny Melby. You can hear Ginny’s story on Revive Our Hearts today by clicking here.
“Five minute warning!” I heard someone yell to me over the loud hum of the boat’s motor. I sat up from my deep sleep (that only lasted twenty minutes) and tried to shake my muscles awake as I zipped up my wetsuit and pulled my glow stick over my life jacket. I tried not to fall over as I stumbled to the back platform of the boat, waves slapping onto the side of the boat and tossing it around with ease. I clenched Uncle Rob’s hand as he helped me into the small lifeboat and said the words I’d heard seemingly a hundred times: “Be very careful, okay?” I nodded.
Getting in that dark, cold water again was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew I had to get on the paddleboard again so Trent could have a turn to rest. I sleepily climbed onto the little boat and braced myself as Rob let out the slack and Trent paddled toward me. He climbed on the lifeboat as I climbed on the paddleboard. I whispered a tortured, “Great job” and he returned with a, “Go get ’em.” But the waves pushed me away from him before I could grab the paddle back after the transfer. He tossed it to me, but my board was too far away. The paddle began to sink in the current. I dropped low to the board and paddled with my arms to retrieve the sinking paddle away from the light of the boat into the black darkness of Lake Michigan.
I couldn’t see anything but the light of the boat getting smaller as I realized I was alone. I heard someone yell something, but I was too tired to respond. I fought the waves to find the paddle, leaned halfway off my board into the freezing water, and grabbed it just in time. I stabbed it in the water and paddled with all my strength to catch up to the boat, noticing that my breathing was heavy and slightly panicked and it had started to rain. Though I couldn’t see them, I heard the waves crashing all around and prayed they wouldn’t take me down with them.
Back in the safety of the boat’s lights, I found my focal point on the back of the boat and didn’t take my eyes off it for a second as I continued to paddle as hard as I could for the next thirty minutes. One weak or misplaced stroke of the paddle, one moment of lost focus, and I would be sent away with the waves in the wrong direction.
If you had told me I would be paddleboarding across Lake Michigan this summer, I wouldn’t have believed you. But after reading a book called Love Does by Bob Goff, my friend Craig and I were inspired to do something worthwhile. In his book, Bob says that instead of just thinking of ways to ambitiously love others, just go do something! Love is a verb.
Craig and his brother, Trent, have a cottage next to mine on Lake Michigan, and we spend our summer days having fun on the water. The three of us wanted to use what we have and what we love (stand-up paddleboarding) to bless others. We decided to paddleboard across Lake Michigan as a fundraiser for Restore International, Bob Goff’s ministry that fights to get children in Uganda out of slavery. I was fearful at first that this project was too big for us. How was I supposed to paddle eighty miles? I prayed for faith and trust, and as God continued to open doors and do miracles for us, we knew He wanted us to run with this crazy idea. The three of us are the first to have completed a mid-lake crossing of Lake Michigan on a stand-up paddleboard. Through this amazing feat, God increased my trust in Him and taught me to seek adventures for His glory.
I would have been fine to just sit on the shore all summer and enjoy looking at the lake. But I would have missed out on seeing God show Himself strong in the midst of my weakness. There were many times during the crossing when I didn’t think I could paddle one more time, but God gave me His strength as I began praying Bible verses like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). We had prayed for calm waters but God gave us waves, and the struggle made our homecoming that much sweeter.
Now it’s your turn to say, “Yes!” to the adventure God is inviting you on. What is it that makes you light up? How can you use that for God’s glory? He will bless you as you faithfully steward the opportunity He has given you to love others. Go make a difference in your world!