It seems like God is always using something that happens on the boat as a sermon prop, and I love it.

This last week of having grandkids on the sailboat was a little slice of heaven, along with numerous doses of the realities of life.

The first one occurred when we were hooked up to the pump out station at the marina and were draining the holding tank. In the middle of this task, the toilet wouldn’t flush all the way. The head (marine term for bathroom) has an electric toilet and is typically functioning well, unless it eats too much toilet paper and can’t quite chew it all up.

Here we were, only a few hours into our family boating adventure, and the toilet was clogged. Good thing Ross is the son of a plumber. He went right to work digging into the mess, and I mean literally. At one point, the converted wire clothes hanger turned toilet clog hook didn’t do the trick, so he had to shove his hand down to start pulling out gunk.

Multiple flushes created overflowing dirty, stinky water, which eventually seeped out onto the wood floor in the cabin. We finally got the mess cleaned up, everything disinfected, the toilet back in working condition, and ventured out into Commencement Bay to get some sailing in. There was actually some wind!

A little later I went down into the cabin and noticed a faint smell of holding tank odor. I’d done my best to clean up the mess, so couldn’t figure out where the odor was coming from. Then I felt it…the carpet in a small area under the V-berth (our sleeping area in the bow – or front – of the boat) was damp. Ah hah! When the dirty water overflowed from the toilet and seeped out onto the cabin floor, it quietly kept going into the adjoining carpet.

UGH.

Add carpet cleaner and more disinfectant to the growing grocery list!

In the meantime, I cleaned it best I could to get the smell out.

As we set sail and experienced the thrill of being on the water with God’s wind filling the sails it occurred to me. Within a very short period of time, we’d experienced the best and the worst of boating life.

The highs and the lows. The mountains and the valleys. The stunning majesty of the water, the blue skies, Mount Rainier in the background, the smell of salt air, and the warm sun and wind … and the stinky, messy, reality of life that cannot be escaped.

Which is pretty much an accurate description of life. There are good times, and bad times. Happy times and frustrating times. Blessings and struggles. Sunshine and storms.

And the reality is, they go together. That’s just how life is.

We can embrace all of it, and rejoice in the goodness of God as He walks with us through each step, or we can grumble and complain when things get tough.

Me? I want to be that one who is filled with gratitude no matter what my circumstances are. I don’t always live up to that. Sometimes I roll my eyes and say under my breath,

“Really?”

But then I come to my senses and realize nothing gets through to me without coming through Him first. He uses even the stinkiest situations to refine us and conform us into His image.

How about you?

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