Fun, Frustration, and Fulfillment

“The church wants to have Water Fun Night every Tuesday this summer. Would you be willing to bring your boat every Tuesday night from 6:00 to 9:00?” The request was deceptively simple.

“Sure. That sounds like fun,” I responded.

But every Tuesday about 5:00 p.m., when there was still just a little work I wanted to stay at the office to finish, I regretted that commitment. Some office task was just starting to come together. It was a brochure one week, a proposal another week, a review of photos for advertising yet another time. Water Fun Night was really annoying.

I began to dread Tuesday afternoons. I got tense. I got edgy. As each Tuesday afternoon wore on, so did my patience. I didn’t have time to take those kids water skiing or tubing or just boat riding. By 6:00 pm, when I arrived at the boat dock, my anger, my tenseness, my frustration bubbled barely below the surface.

But I kept the time commitment each week. We would load five or six teens in the boat and leave the dock. Five minutes upriver, we’d attach the tow rope, throw the tube over the side, put wetsuits and life jackets on one or two of the teens, and start the thrill rides.

Around in circles. Creating our own waves. Tossing the tube—and its occupants—into the air. Laughter filled the evening sky, both from the boat and from the tube.

Then it was skiing. I remember the girl who had never skied before. The apprehension that filled her face as she crouched in the water was replaced by ecstasy as she got up and skied behind the boat. When she clambered back into the boat, her face wasn’t large enough to contain her grin.

I remember the boy who tried six times to get up—and failed. I remember the pats on the back and the expressions of support when he climbed into the boat, exhausted and discouraged. “You’ll make it next time,” someone said. “Just rest a little.”

And an hour later he did make it.

Something happened in those three hours in the boat. We didn’t give Bible studies, didn’t even have a Steps to Christ along. But young people learned that their church cared about them, learned that God loved them, learned that Jesus gave His life for them. I was ministering to those teenagers.

Something else happened in the boat every Tuesday night. My tension melted. My frustration subsided. Joy returned to my life. The things that were so important at the office faded. Those teenagers ministered to me.

Every Tuesday afternoon that summer I regretted my time commitment to the young people of the church. But every Tuesday evening by 9:00, I was refreshed. I had a new perspective of what was—is—important.

And the next spring when the church asked for volunteers to bring boats to Water Fun Night every Tuesday night, I signed up.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3, RSV).

By Kermit Netteburg

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