Row, Row, Row Your Boat

by Barbara Ann Oliver

For the July 4th weekend, I joined six fearless ladies from Highland Street in Memphis for a weekend on a 50-foot houseboat. When we left Memphis, we were sure of only two things: We had a cook and a captain, and we were going to have fun!

Then reality set in. We discovered that several people were needed to jump off the boat, swim to shore, and tie it up. To our utter amazement, three Amazon women were in our group: Amy, Carol and Diane. Often, the boat would have to be pulled further one way or the other, and I could hear Amy yelling, “One, two, three. Pull!”

Lynn, our chef, had researched Southern Living and found a whole issue devoted to houseboat cuisine. To put it mildly, we dined sumptuously. But she will be blamed for all those extra pounds that showed up on our bathroom scales this morning.

Janice, the captain, steered us to the right places throughout the weekend, closing her ears to the voices around her saying, “Wasn’t that house on the same side the last time? Are you sure this is the right way?” Fortunately for us, it was the right way.

Sue was our plumber. Sue deserves lots of praise! Yea, Sue!

By Saturday night, I was feeling a bit concerned. Everyone on the boat had a job — except me. I ate. I napped on the couch. I swam. I ate. I read, sitting in the sun with my feet up. But so far, I hadn’t contributed one thing to the talented crew. I was, well — a bum!

I would like to have been the captain, to steer the boat, but I tried, and I wasn’t very good at it. Janice could do it better. I would like to have been an Amazon woman, but I am not a strong enough swimmer. Amy, Carol and Diane could do it better. I would like to have been the chef, but I am not a confident cook, and Lynn can cook great! I would like to have been the plumber — Nah! Thank you, Sue, for being willing to do that job!

Then suddenly out of the cabin, someone calls my name. “Barbara, can you come fix this TV and VCR? We want to watch a movie.” Finally! Something I can do. After a little fiddling with the two remotes, we were watching the movie. “Ooh!” they exclaimed. I know, I know; it wasn’t much, and it wasn’t difficult. But don’t tell them, because between now and next year I have to convince them that a TV/VCR Technician is an invaluable asset!

During the weekend, we were constantly amazed by the diversity of talents, which had the effect of making us a cohesive unit. We were a community, a church, a fellowship, a family, a body, intent on one goal: having fun. We were focused, and we all worked together to accomplish that goal.

It reminds me of what the church is supposed to be: a body, a group of parts working together to make a cohesive unit.

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

I like that: “for the profit of all.” That is what Christianity is all about. We are a community, a church, a fellowship, a family, a body, intent on one goal: spending eternity with our Father and our Brother.

Let us be focused and work together to accomplish that goal.

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Barbara A Oliver

Barbara Ann Oliver has worked with the church in Costa Rica for many years and serves as the associate editor for Forthright Magazine.

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