(AUTHOR’S NOTE: For this entry, I am re-publishing something from a previous and short-lived blog of mine about two years ago that was read by, I don’t know, about half a dozen people at most. Anyway, I thought it bore repeating, and most of you have never read it anyway, so here you go.)
Recently, on a sunny end-of-Summer Saturday afternoon, I had the privilege of hosting a get-together of Deeper Life Men and young men. As you might expect, we had grilled meat and other manly food, and we enjoyed each other’s company as fellowship abounded. This was known as a Yak-n-Smack. Nobody got smacked around, though a number of men did have some trouble chewing with their mouths closed.
The “yak” part of the name came from an activity that we planned as part of the event. I have the great blessing of living on a 15-acre lake, and though I have lived on said lake for six years, only in the last year have I invested in a way to actually get out on the water. Earlier this year, I bought and fell in love with a kayak. Since then, I have acquired an additional kayak, a tandem, that carries two people. Since other men at Deeper Life also have kayaks and canoes, we decided to do some geocaching around the lake as part of the day’s fun.
In case you haven’t heard of geocaching, it is a worldwide phenomenon that involves burying or hiding items anywhere around the globe, recording the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) coordinates, then posting them on a geocaching website so that other people can go on their own little treasure hunt and find what you have hidden. On this particular Saturday, a couple of us decided to do a mini version of this around the lake.
We chose a few small items: a flag, a small stuffed monkey, a small buoy, and a figurine of Princess Leia from Star Wars, a toy that belonged to my son, Nathaniel. (He happily loaned it, by the way. It was not absconded from him in the name of ministry.) Before the men arrived, a few of us went out in our kayaks and hid the items around the lake, recording their GPS coordinates along the way. I had the idea that we could even use an anchor and a rope and submerge one of the toys just under the surface, out in the middle of the lake, to see how good our guys were. So, we crammed little Princess Leia into an empty Powerade bottle, sealed it tight, and left it floating about six inches under the surface. Cool.
Over the next few hours, the men came, the men ate, and the men launched into the deep blue and found the required treasures, and a good time was had by all. When it came time to retrieve the hidden things, I climbed into my kayak, and as I began to paddle out, my friend Jorge, whose GPS units we had used, asked if I wanted to use one to find the Princess. “No,” I assured him, “I know where she is.”
But I didn’t.
I paddled and paddled around, right where I knew she should be, but to no avail. Obviously, Jabba the Hutt had hired someone to kidnap her. Or, maybe I just should have taken the GPS. At any rate, night fell, darkness descended, and Princess Leia was trapped in the belly of the bottle, floating in a watery prison, white robes flowing, laser pistol drawn, eyes narrowed, watching. And waiting.
Two more days passed before I could get back on the lake. On Tuesday morning, I knew I had a few minutes to kayak before I had to catch a plane to Texas. I once again paddled to the approximate site of Leia’s last known location, and, once again, could not find her. So I prayed. “Father,” I said, “I know this may not be a big deal, but since this was Nathaniel’s toy, I would really like to find Leia and return her to him. Could you please help me find her?” I continued to paddle around. Nothing. Came the other way around. Nothing. Put on my polarized sunglasses. Still nothing. I gave up.
I went on to get my exercise, then turned around at the end of the lake to head back to my house. As I was cutting through the water, I happened to glance to my left, and there, bobbing just below the surface, three feet from the kayak, Leia caught my eye.
On reaching shore, I quickly cut the rope tied to the bottle, cut open the bottle, and freed her majesty, and not a moment to soon. Any longer, and she would have suffocated.
Okay, so it was just a toy. But the fact remains, I rescued a princess that day. It felt pretty good. And it meant something to me on a couple of levels. For one thing, I have this profound built-in need to be a hero, to rescue the damsel in distress. She might have been two inches tall and plastic, but I was still the hero.
I also realized, though, that every day, all of us are surrounded by princesses in trouble. It may be the young mother in front of us in line at McDonald’s who is juggling three small children and realizes she doesn’t have enough money for her order. It might be the woman in a wheelchair in Wal-Mart who is trying to figure out how to get a twelve-pack box of Diet Pepsi to the counter up front. Or maybe it’s the older man whose grandson just moved away to college and he doesn’t know who will help him with his lawn now. The fact is, there are people to be rescued with some small demonstration of God’s love, some kindness, everywhere, every day. All we have to do is ask the Father to lead us to them, then trust Him to reveal them as we move through the day. And as soon as you hear yourself saying, “I wonder if that’s who I am supposed to serve today,” you can pretty much bet on it that it is.
So have some real fun today. Find a princess to rescue.