“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together through all kinds of trouble.”—Proverbs 17:17 (The Message Version)
“That’s interesting,” I thought, as my friend Kate read from her devotion that morning. It was the same scripture that had been revealed during a previous time of adversity. She continued to read. “If you have Godly friends, love and nurture those relationships as though your life depends on them, because it does.”
My eyes teared. Kate is my best friend. We have stood beside and propped each other up through some tough times. Times like her daughter passing away in an accident in 2011. Times like my son-in-law passing away two years later. Times like both of us being ready to throw in the towel on the ministries that God has called us to. She is a “friend that loves through all kinds of weather.”
Although the wind started to blow from the same direction it had the previous day, it was a beautiful morning. Kate, my eleven-year-old grandson Alex, and myself were on a kayak trip on the Qu’Appelle river.
The day before had already proved to be an adventure. We had taken a couple of breaks along the banks of the river, but as we tried to find a place to camp for the night, there was nowhere in sight to get out. The embankments were too high and steep. Finally, after seven hours of paddling, we found a spot. A herd of magnificent horses kept peering over the embankment at us. It was their watering spot. You could practically read their thoughts as they flicked their ears. “Yep, they’re still there,” they said to each other as they trotted away.
Alex was asleep early. We had found wood for a fire and Kate and I warmed ourselves as shooting stars burned their way through the clear night. It was breathtaking.
“Grandma, I’m not feeling well,” Alex said after Kate finished reading her devotion the next morning. Then he started vomiting.
We took turns towing him a few times the day before. Kate’s kayak was longer and sleeker than mine. Even when she towed Alex, it was hard for me to keep up.
“No problem Alex,” I said. “I will tow you. All you have to do is sit in the kayak until we reach our destination.” Kate and I looked at each other. The long day before had already taxed our bodies. So, she insisted on towing Alex, knowing we would reach our destination sooner.
After we launched, I started to become sick. At one point, Alex and I vomited over the sides of our kayaks in unison. I would’ve laughed, had we not been in this situation.
We kept going. But every time we traversed an oxbow, there would be a long distance of the wind blowing straight at us. It was strong enough that if we stopped, it would blow us back against the current.
The reception on our cell phones wasn’t great, but I managed to call my daughter, Jodie, to let her know we would hopefully be at a spot soon where she could pick up Alex. But the reception wasn’t sufficient to load the GPS on our phones. We had no idea how much farther it was.
I could see the worried look on Alex’s face. His condition was not improving. Things were starting to look bleak.
Kate steered her kayak into the reeds. Her neck muscles were in extreme pain and she had an eye condition that was rearing its ugly head. She felt as though daggers were being driven into her eyes. She needed to keep them closed.
“Mel, I’ve lost hope. I feel like I’m going to pass out. I don’t think I can go on.”
It just got bleaker.
Kate was my rock. And she was one tough cookie. If she was losing hope . . .
I took one look at my grandson’s face.
“This is not a problem,” I said as I tied a rope onto Kate’s kayak, then mine. “I will tow both you and Alex. We will make it.”
No one said a word. A strength from a deep, deep, place came out of nowhere.
The wind continued to blow. I could hear Kate and Alex’s moans as we rounded each bend, only to see another long stretch of river. But we kept moving. With me in front, Kate could paddle most of the time with her eyes closed.
Finally, the lake loomed ahead. But the wind blew harder. A building emerged in the distance, but it was miles away. We would never make it. Alex continued to vomit over the side of his kayak.
“Grandma, what are we going to do?” he asked, his voice shaking.
I looked around. And prayed. “I’m calling Uncle Rod,” I said.
‘Uncle Rod’ is my other son-in-law. Within minutes and without hesitation, he dropped everything.
Time ticked away. “Grandma, what if he doesn’t make it? What if he can’t find us?” Storm clouds started gathering overhead.
“He will be here.”
The sound of a motor was heard, and there in the distance, relief filled our hearts. Rod, and my daughter Lindsey, were coming to rescue us and tow us home.
I didn’t realize how desperate it appeared to Kate until we were safe in the truck. “Honestly, Mel, at times, I was ready to press the 911 button on my phone.”
But there had been three towropes before Rod and Lindsey arrived. The rope between Kate and Alex’s kayak, the rope between Kate’s and my kayak, and the rope between my kayak and the Lord’s.
“If you have Godly friends, love and nurture those relationships as though your life depends on them, because it does.”
It wasn’t a life-threatening situation, but it affected us deeply. Kate had worked through some safety-based issues, Alex experienced the joy of being rescued. Me? My faith rope was extended a few more meters.
I had prayed that my grandson would have an unforgettable, memorable experience.
The next day, tears fell as I listened to a worship song, “The wind and waves surround me . . . I am tired, I am weak, I need You here with me . . .”