Towing Stranded Boaters

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

We read throughout the New Testament that we are to love others. John makes it very clear in his first letter that loving others is not just a thing you talk about; it's something you actively do:

If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. (The Message, I John 3:17, 18)

Last summer, my family and I had an opportunity to "practice real love." We were sitting on the deck looking out at the lake, enjoying the beautiful view and watching the boating activity. There were two boats which had been pulling people on wakeboards and inner tubes back and forth for quite some time. Eventually they stopped for a bit until one of the boats sped off, leaving the other boat. That boat floated on the lake in our line of sight for awhile. Often people just hang out on their boats, but this didn't seem to be the case. As I kept watching, a couple guys got up and looked around anxiously. It seemed like they were in trouble.

If they needed help, I wanted to help them, and we had the means. I mentioned this to my family and pointed to the boat. I got the binoculars to see if I could tell what was happening. I saw one of them get out a rather small oar and attempt to move the boat. It wasn't working. As family members walked down the path to the boat dock, I stayed in the people's line of sight and waved from above to the boaters, yelling as loudly as I could to ask them if they needed help. I looked through the binoculars to see their answer. They started waving back and yelling.

My parents, who were at the dock by this time, were able to yell to the people and found out that they did indeed need help. My folks got our boat and then went out to help the stranded boaters. We watched as my parents threw them a line and worked to get the boats into position for towing. Towing another boat can be tricky. You have to be careful about weight and speed and waves, etc.

When my folks got back much later than we expected, they filled us in with the details. They had towed them over to a cove some distance away. The people had been boating with their friends who had left them. Their boat wouldn't start, and they didn't have a cell phone to call their friends and let them know the situation. The people were very grateful. A few days later, they came back to the dock to thank us and let us know that they had gotten their boat fixed.

We all felt good about helping these people. It's a feeling that you can only experience when you reach out and bless others, when you follow Jesus' commandment of love. As John reminds us: "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (I John 3:11).

When we see that someone needs help, and we help them out, we're spreading love -- which is a reflection, an outgrowth, of God's love which is always and ever abundant. You may not come across stranded boaters, but you may discover that others are floundering in some way. So let's be active this summer in finding ways to help them experience "real love."