Four guys decided to go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida. One guy provided his boat. Someone chose the time to leave. Someone decided how far out to go. Someone decided to check the weather or not. Someone decided to stay a little longer when the wind came up. When the boat capsized while still anchored, there weren’t many decisions left to be made in the 63-degree water. Only one survived!
Many followed the story of Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith, both NFL players, along with Will Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, both former football teammates at the Unversity of South Florida. They left Clearwater Pass early on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009, in Cooper’s 21-foot boat with calm weather. By that afternoon, however, waves were 7 feet and higher and even 15 feet the next day. After the boat overturned, Bleakley swam under it to retrieve 3 life jackets, one cushion and a cooler. He gave the life jackets to his friends and used the cushion. All 4 tried to hang on to the boat, but only Nick Schuyler was still clinging to it when found by the Coast Guard on Monday, 46 hours later and 35 miles from shore.
Hindsight is always sharp after such disasters, but one thing really stood out. Another friend of Cooper, Clay Eavenson, had joined him 2 days earlier on a fishing outing. While out, Clay told him he should buy an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) for his boat. That’s a gadget used to locate boats in distress and can self-activate when a boat overturns. Cooper agreed, but didn’t follow through. Clay was invited to go on Saturday, but declined.
Families, friends and fans of these three lost at sea were trying to deal with their grief. A memorial service was held on March 7 for Will Bleakley, a positive spirited walk-on football player who became team captain. Cooper and Smith were similarly remembered. Certainly no one wants to add to their grief, but this observation can still be made. The small decisions we make can combine to have major consequences. This is true in spiritual matters as well.
Should I eat some of my choices in a grocery store and discard the wrappers so I don’t have to pay for them? Is it different if my kids are watching? Should I forge someone else’s signature on this document just to save time? Should I change the date on another document to favor my case? Should I have lunch or dinner with my co-worker of the opposite sex without alerting my mate? Or work late with him/her when no one else is around? It may be the small things I fail to do that combine to do me in, like praying, reading God’s Word, worshipping or making myself accountable to at least one fellow believer (EPIRB?).
Paul wrote, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (I Corinthians 16:13) Peter wrote, “Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” (I Peter 4:7) And, he added, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8)
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.