Red, Right, Returning…

My dad is an avid boater. Growing up our weekends were typically spent on the waterways of south Louisiana. I can still remember the thrill the day that he let me captain the boat. My dad, the consummate teacher, began that very day teaching me the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate waterways. Fast forward a few years later. It was a bright sunny Saturday, our family boating together, and my dad decides to hand the controls over to me. We were returning from Lake Ponchatrain and headed back to the marina on the Tchefuncta River. I sat down in the captains chair and dad decided to go underneath into the cabin. I was all alone – just me and the years of lessons and techniques flashing through my head like an opened fire hydrant. Then it came to me – the most critical lesson, the one that if you forget all others, I MUST remember this one:

Red, Right, Returning

Probable thought process – “Ok, I got the 3 R’s…Good. But what do they mean? Panic! Then it came back to me. To navigate safely using buoys, you should pass between the red and the green. Returning from sea or going upstream in a river, the red markers should be on your right (red, right, returning) and the green markers on your left. When leaving port and heading towards sea or downstream, the opposite is true – the red should be on your left and green on your right. This maritime rule will keep your boat in the deepest channel and keep you from running aground.

As I read Matthew 16, I was struck by a similar maritime warning:
“You have a saying that goes, ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
You find it easy enough to forecast the weather – why can’t you read the signs of the times?”

Even though I had some training, I was not ready to navigate our boat though the intricacies of a bayou river. It didn’t take me long to start yelling for dad to come help. Just like our chapter today, it is not enough to be able to read the sky when we are missing everything else around us. We can get so caught up in the rules of religion that we miss the simple grace of God.

Thank you Lord for the buoys of faith that you place in our lives…


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