Get on the Boat

An old joke:
A great storm has taken place and massive flooding has occurred. A pious, holy man stood on his roof to escape the flood. As the water continues to rise ever higher, a boat comes along. The boat comes up to him and the people inside offer the religious man a ride. He declines, “No thank you. G-d will save me.” While those in the boat are surprised at his reaction, they recognize he will not get in, so they drive off. This same happenstance occurs two more times. Each time the end result is the same. The pious man declines by saying, “No thank you. G-d will save me.” Eventually, the holy man drowns.
The holy man gets to heaven, and he has his moment to speak with G-d. He says, “G-d, I don’t understand. I pray to you regularly, give charity, study the bible, and do acts of kindness to the stranger. I am a true believer. How could you let me drown? G-d replies to the religious man, “I sent you a boat three times, but you refused to get on.”

When offered an opportunity, take it. Don’t question. That is the lesson I take from that joke. You don’t know where or when opportunity will present itself. However, that doesn’t matter. Remember that Stevie Winwood song, When you see a chance, you take it.
Too often, I am a double clutcher to use a basketball comparison. The player who double clutches despite an open shot has his shot blocked. He/she can’t believe the opportunity they have, so they pause for a split second. Well, in that split second, the opportunity has come and gone.
I wonder what if, playing out multiple scenarios in my head. I tell myself I am being wise and practical. I tell myself I have:
children depending on me,
food to put on the table,
a mortgage,
private school tuition bills.
I have, have have. Too often, these blessings can double as burdens.

This week is Chanukah. A very brief summary of Chanukah – The Jews overcame the Greeks, the superpower of the day. The Greeks had ransacked the Temple. When the Jews came to the Temple to rededicate it, they found only one day’s worth of pure oil which was needed to light the menorah (or lamps). They lit the menorah, and miraculously, the oil lasted for eight nights by which time more purified oil was able to be secured.
One could easily ask why did they even bother lighting the menorah? The oil was not sufficient and ultimately would have disappointed. However, the people took that chance and let G-d determine what would be. They had faith. Another question which is commonly asked is why celebrate the holiday for eight days (of course extra jelly donuts, latkes, and presents is the answer most kids give)? After all, the first day was not a miracle. There was enough oil for one day, so the miracle took place over the final 7 days. One answer that I have heard to this dilemma particularly impresses me. The fact that oil lights at all is a miracle. It is not an acknowledged miracle but an everyday miracle. The lesson I learn from this is to appreciate the every day.
So as my family and I celebrate Chanukah and I contemplate the end of the year, I have lessons to relearn. I need to move forward, and pledge to get on the boat when it shows up at my door.

37 thoughts on “Get on the Boat

  1. I love that comparison. The Jews certainly seized an opportunity by lighting that lamp, even though they were unsure of the outcome. Great thoughts here. Thank you for sharing them. And a happy Chanukah to you and your family!

  2. A good lesson to take with me into the New Year as well. Fear and “common sense” has a tendency to hold me back. You only live once. You gotta grab those opportunities while you can.

  3. Okay, I’m glad you brought this up because I need your input over here. Today I saw a minivan with a large plastic sign attached to the roof–think of a lit pizza delivery advertisement and you have the right idea. But this huge plastic thing was all about Chanukah, with a menorah and everything. So tell me–was this an actual person celebrating Chanukah, or a little joke, like those people who put reindeer antlers on the minivan with a red nose on the grill?

    Our population is about .01% Jewish in these parts, so I’ve never run into this before. Didn’t want to giggle if it wasn’t a joke. 🙂

    All that being said, I do appreciate your deeper meaning about trusting God and taking opportunities when He brings them!

  4. It’s nice to be reminded to “get on the boat.” Very applicable to my life at the moment. You’ve given me something to ponder today! Thank you.

  5. Loved it and everyone’s responses to it, etc. etc, blah, blah, but, what grabbed me most was the line “I have lessons to relearn”. I love to watch people grow and change, but what is the most awe inspiring is those that admit it right out loud. Those that are willing to step up and state that they want to continue to change, to grow, to seize opportunities, to get on the boat and to just have the faith in what has been given to them. Rock On!

  6. Great story to bring us into the holidays. And I couldn’t disagree with one thing you said. It’s been great getting to know you this year and we’ll see how you do with your ‘lessons to relearn.’
    Happy Chanukah to you, my friend.

  7. It is interesting that the things we have are sometimes the reason we don’t take that opportunity when it comes around. I good lesson to remember, getting on that boat.

  8. Pingback: Sunshine Award | The Cranky Giraffe

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