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I Still Run Aground

Several years ago, I marked a passage in the New Testament Book of Acts. I re-read it a few days ago. The note in the margin says: "I still run aground." Referring to the Apostle Paul, who was being transported as a prisoner to Rome. He tells the Ship's captain that he didn't think they should leave the Harbour. But they did, and it resulted in a shipwreck.

"The following day, they even took some of the Ship's gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars until, at last, all hope was gone. No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, "Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the Ship will go down.

Acts of the Apostles 27:19-22 NLT

Making less-than-perfect decisions has been thematic for me. Choosing a direction with the best of intentions and then running aground. Re-reading 35 years of my journal reminded me of just how many risky choices I made. I was startled, like crossing a log over a raging river, then looking back and saying, "What in the world was I thinking!"

My religious tradition has tended to explain running aground as the result of being out of God's will, not paying attention to God's will, or just plain sin. I've acquired a more nuanced view. I, like many, assumed that Paul heard from God. Maybe he did, but what if Paul was just giving his opinion? He was a tent maker, not a sailor. I might have sided with the Ship's captain, too.

Looking at the times I've run aground, my decisions were risky, but in keeping with my values, "to live by faith." To be intentional about risk-taking.

Swimming for the beach after running aground has been hard. Hard for me, for my health, my family, and my finances. For my faith.

Would I make the same decisions given the opportunity for a do-over? I would certainly make some different choices. Most I would repeat without change.

There is an ancient saying in dying well: "To die with your eyes wide open.”

I will risk running aground. To die with my eyes wide open.

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