Up & Down.

The following is a tale of just one of our adventures on sabbatical. It was not a normal day, but it felt normal. It was not a good day, nor was it a bad day. It was a Thursday.

We had decided we wanted to visit Ilha do Mel (Honey Island) for the day. So, without any research we jumped in the car and drove about an hour to the port city of Paranagua. Here we started asking for details on how to get to the island. We were pointed to a little stand down the street. There we found out we needed to purchase tickets in cash. I had fortunately grabbed an extra $50 that morning. We had just enough money for four tickets.

We boarded the boat finding seats in the back on the left side. Already at 8:30am I was realizing I was hot and sweating. As the diesel engine was running and we were not moving I began to see our day playing out before me. This was not going to be the Love Boat…maybe more like Gilligan’s Island, not the good parts.

We left the dock and puttered along about 50 of us with our beach gear sweating together. After about an hour, I was exhausted. Hot, sweaty, tired and sick of the slow going I asked Darla to find out the estimated time of arrival. We were only halfway there.

In our conversation with some other passengers they began doting on the kids. Giving them Ruffles potato chips and asking where we were from. By the end of the conversation we realized we drove an hour north to take a two hour boat ride when we could have driven 30 minutes north and taken a 30 minute boat ride for less money.

This was not a good moment for me. I absolutely hate inefficiency. Life is about the destination and then the next destination…not the journey. Or so I’ve thought. I’m learning.

We landed on the island, hot, hungry and not wanting to be there. They dropped us off in a deserted area with no idea where we were going. It was almost two miles to the old Portuguese fort on one end of the island and one mile to the Lighthouse on the other. I wandered off by myself hoping to find a boat for hire to take me to the mainland and then an airport. I was done!

After a walk in the shade and a few moments alone I began to shed my self-centeredness and lose the tunnel vision. I cooled down, calmed down and we all ate a big seafood lunch.

The rest of the day found us hiking on the beach, collecting sand dollars, cooling off in the crystal clear aquamarine water, climbing hundreds of steps to an old lighthouse and discovering beautiful moments as a family.

By early evening the time came to catch our boat (another two hour ride by the way) so we headed back to the dock. This time we wandered the paths through the jungle and the center of the island. A huge thunderstorm rolled in and we watched unbelievable lightening strikes and felt pacemaker-wrecking thunder as we waited for our boat. The boat arrived and we took off ahead of the storm.

The boat was mostly empty on the way back and as I sat in the quiet and watched the sunset in front of me while the storm raged behind me I reflected on the day. It was a microcosm of our lives. Up and down. Down then up. Hot, sweaty and tired one moment and then basking in the sun on a beach the next. The day was a gift and I could have left it unwrapped. The day was designed by God and I almost threw it all away.

Once back at the dock, some new friends Darla had made on the boat offered to show us their favorite pizza spot as we were famished. They drove us all the way out of town (away from their house) to lead us to the best wood-fired pizza I’ve had in my life. We ate and laughed, asked for forgiveness and reflected on the blessing of the day. Besides that we ate Brazilian pizza – the best pizza in the world.

At the end of the day, whether I’m up or I’m down, I know I am standing on the solid rock. A rock of grace and love, covered in the forgiveness that brings hope. What a gift! We are so blessed to know Jesus, to share our lives as a family and to see the Spirit working in us to humble and transform us before our very eyes. As A.W. Tozer says, “The pursuit of God will embrace the labor of bringing our TOTAL PERSONALITY into conformity to His.”

Up or down…I’m conforming to Jesus.

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