The Policeman and the Eagle

by | Mar 28, 2021

You would think that something so simple as urine would never serve a purpose other than the purpose of disposal… If so, then you would be wrong. The fact that urine serves as a foaming agent is often overlooked in the conversation. But how many people would ever deem that to be a purpose of that product whatsoever? You would be correct to assume that nearly zero percent of the populace would find that to be true. And yet, for a very small percentage, it is true. Many things in life have a lesser purpose obscured by the inevitable fact that the first purpose is so obvious. I have a bar of Irish Spring soap in my car that I use specifically for making window tracks slide easier. I have a peanut butter pretzel container that now holds my spare change. I went on a kayak tour yesterday and learned a life lesson on Christianity, tenacity freedom, and the law.

Instead of regaling you with stories of urine foam, house break-ins, or peanut butter, let me tell you the story of the kayak tour.

It was mid-afternoon, sitting around the grill, and I was feeling a bit pensive. Stories of Targums and Mystery Religions floated in the air as children ran around the alligator pond with squirt guns. Festive dresses, roasted lamb, and wine were in tow, and it was turning out to be rather a glorious Passover in South Carolina. As a rather reclusive person, often to recharge in social settings, I need a little time to myself… A kayak tour would be just the thing. Getting prepared, I set out, heading out. Not a hundred feet away I got the call.

“Pauly! Hold up! You’ve got company!” Someone rang.

So I waited. Paddling back I was relieved to find my new friend Miles climbing in the other kayak. He’s another seeming introvert, so I was a bit happier than to have an extrovert joining me. I don’t know; maybe he too had to get away.

Paddling out along the little shore islands, we found a Blue Heron family that wasn’t really happy we had stumbled upon them. Dad took flight to get a better view and Mom stayed near the nest. We apologized and paddled around them. Quickly we had come away from the smaller of the islands and spotted an alligator. The whole area was in fact an alligator preserve so they were in abundance. We were on the Goose Creek Reservoir, North of the Cooper River tributary, before it meets the main Cooper River. It was nice and a little windy. If my memory serves correctly it was 79 degrees Fahrenheit with a gentle wind coming at us from the South East.

I had informed Miles of my destination. A little ways south stood a large Utility Tower that went east-west across the water. Seemed doable for a little kayak tour, and Miles was down for it. He told me that he’d not been kayaking before; so as a former ocean kayak instructor I gave him a few pointers and we increased our speed. I don’t know if you’ve gone canoeing or kayaking for any distance before, but the rhythm of the paddles or oars can be quite cathartic to still a busy mind. We were in freshwater kayaks, a little different than ocean kayaks, but there’s more leg room. Soon enough we were in the middle of the water, halfway to our destination.

A flock of Egrets gently flew overhead. At first, I had mistaken them for Pelicans, but their necks are held differently in flight. There were maybe forty of them… Pelican flocks are around fifteen from what I have seen. Whatever the case, they weren’t Ibis’ or Storks and they were beautiful. We passed several other boaters. All of them were nice to us, not thrashing us in their wakes. We all waved, everyone was very friendly. In one vessel, a little boy held aloft a US flag proudly. I suppose he wanted us to know that they were not pirates… Or something… Mostly fishermen but some tourists passed us by, running errands, enjoying their Sabbath. We passed by two boats connected together. Some buddies having a talk I supposed. We were a quarter mile away from our destination.

The power lines stretched overhead. The tower was one of those crisscrossed steel structures, made of large triangles, towering upward. It was seated above the water by enormous poles, like a square based vehicle from H.G. Well’s: War of the Worlds. An alien vessel, having landed on earth… So out of place in this natural water wonderland. I daresay the only natural thing about it were the twenty Herons that were sunning themselves on the horizontal girders. When we were around 100 feet away, I stopped, after a sudden epiphany. Miles was behind me and I turned about, port side.

“This is it!” I declared. “This is as far as many Christians come to the truth and then decide to turn back.”

He looked at me quizzically so I continued.

“Most people I know… Most followers of Christ only make it this far. They get 100 feet from the Truth that sets them free… Then they turn around and go back. They are too afraid of what it will look like when they actually decide to obey Him all the way.” I looked at him. “You know we could go back now too.”

He laughed.

“That’s what I thought,” I said and turned around to finish the destination.

It was then that a boater approached us. It was one of the two boats that had been talking with each other earlier. He approached. It was an officer of the law.

Oh?

“How you guys doing?” He asked.

“Great,” we replied. “How are you?”

He eyed us up and down.

“Just wanted to make sure you’ve got sound devices with you.” He replied. “And your life-vests.”

We both had life-vests. Miles had his stowed on the deck-rigging, and I was wearing mine. We looked around for sound devices, but found none.

“Well I’m a professional singer. I can make a lot of noise.” I laughed.

He laughed too.

“HOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!” I exclaimed. My yawp echoed across the waterway. “How’s that?”

He smiled and offered us citations.

Officer William Bense of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources told me that he was just doing his job.

I told him that I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell him that Jesus loved him and had a plan for his life.

He smiled and told me to have a great day. He too, was a Christian.

Even though the citations were warning notices, I still didn’t like being arrested on site for something that really didn’t matter. I took the ticket saying thanks. Grabbing the plastic whistle off my life vest, he said: “Hey, you’ve got one right there.”

“Well, I didn’t even know it was here until right now. But I’m going to keep the ticket anyway. I’ll frame it.” I told him.

He laughed and puttered away.

I looked back at Miles. We were both a little abashed about the ordeal. But guess what? The little chat had set us backwards from our goal… Due to the wind, the tower was now a quarter mile away. Our delay had caused us time, and without rowing, we had drifted windward north, away from our southern destination. I laughed.

“Just like the journey with the Christians. They get so close to Truth and then law enforcement gets involved.” I jested. “I guess let’s finish the race set before us.”

We paddled and we got to the edge of the tower. Going around it, I exclaimed: “THIS IS IT! IT FEELS SO GOOD!” Miles laughed.

I was so happy with my smallest of achievements that I circled it again, just to spite fate and adversity. Let me be clear. I work construction for a living and Miles is a delivery driver, so the arm-workout really wasn’t anything cumbersome for either of us. It wasn’t a marathon, it wasn’t difficult… It was nice. But more importantly, what it was, was a metaphorical journey of realization and reflection.The proof was the eagle.

I kid you not, it may have been the exact same spot where we were accosted by law enforcement for our supposed lack of whistles… But where we were now, albeit the same location was in a different time than earlier. But in this precise moment, we both saw a Bald Eagle swoop down and catch a goodly sized fish and fly away. It was probably the most majestic thing I had seen in ten years.

And we wouldn’t have seen it if we had turned around. We wouldn’t have seen it if we had left after getting tickets and drifting backwards. We wouldn’t have seen it if we had not gotten tickets. We wouldn’t have seen it unless… UNLESS…

At that exact time, in the exact way, with every circumstance in play… It had gone down just exactly as it had gone down.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 tells me. “Those who love God and are called” is what the text reads. There are two things in play: Obedience and Predestination. Maybe not those words exactly; maybe words that are synonyms of those words. Maybe it’s love going up and love coming down.

He works things for us who love Him and are called by Him.

Deuteronomy 28:1 tells us the same thing, and maybe this is where the writer of Romans got it from: “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the YHVH your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, YHVH  your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.”

If you love…

If you obey…

Then you will be blessed…

It happens that my wife and I had driven two hours to get to the destination where we were celebrating Passover. We were being obedient to worship Him how He wanted to be worshiped. And I was reminded of that fact even this very morning, when I threw out all the bread from the house. Obeying Him is how He wants to be loved. I can say “I love you” all the time, but unless there are verbs involved – My words are garbage.

It’s like I told Miles when we had first approached the tower.

“This is it!” I declared. “This is as far as many Christians come to the truth and then decide to turn back.”

How close were you to obedience when you decided that it wasn’t worth it to pursue? When did you give up? When did you decide that your family tradition was better than obeying God? When did you give your spouse the power to let you disobey God? When did you get “stuck?” Was it literally law enforcement? Was Officer William Bense there giving you a “Whistle Ticket?” Obviously not right? It was probably Carol at the grocery store looking at you sideways because you’re buying Kosher and not Halal. It was probably your buddy Greg at work, who gave you guff about not buying Christmas presents for your children. It was probably Joyce at church, why you won’t celebrate Easter. It was probably Theo, who wrote you up for not coming to work on Saturday.

This is why you just get Herons and not Eagles.

 

“But they that endure for YHVH shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings as eagles; They shall run, and not be weary; They shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

 

Pauly Hart

1 Comment

  1. Michaeldeschene

    Hallelujah

    Reply

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