Just Have Faith. No, Wait!

6 02 2021

Back in the 60s one of the greatest pleasures I had in my adopted hometown of Fremont Ohio was hanging out on the Sandusky River, a tributary to Lake Erie in north-central Ohio in the United States. It is about 133 miles long and flows into Lake Erie at the southwest side of Sandusky Bay. It was a wonderful place to play and explore as a youth. Before the days of the city building a floodwall, there was a large growth of trees on both banks making it a great place to explore, fish and campout. Often my buddies and I would grab our fishing poles, sleeping bags and some goodies to eat and head up river to our favorite place to camp. By today’s standards it was relatively safe then; no one bothered you and if something did happen you were always close to town or homes no matter where you were. The only place that was off limits was on the west side behind the old A&P store. This was the area known as Hobo Jungle; an area dense with brush and trees where vagabonds stayed. The train tracks were just above the trail head that led into the jungle. When freight trains slowed, they would hop off and on depending on their plans. Kids were taught young you were never to go in the Hobo Jungle. (On a side note, I wrote in an earlier “Traveling the Rock Road” of my experiences there. Possibly I’ll repost sometime.) But the river was a wonderful, place to explore, from the dam, which is now gone where we used to swim, all the way to a stretch of land known as Brady’s Island. Past the island, the river was deep enough for pleasure boaters to run full bore as well as ski. In the winter when the river froze over and it was shallow near the bridge, the city would clear a great big area for ice skating. Hundreds would be down on the ice enjoying the festive like atmosphere that occurred on those cold days. Even for kids like me who didn’t have skates, it was fun to run full bore on the ice to see how far we could slide on our feet, bellies or seat. But without a doubt the most popular time on the river was in the Spring, when the walleye fish would leave Lake Erie and head up river to spawn. Both sides of the banks would be lined shoulder to shoulder with fishermen, while others in waders and boats would be in the river, all with the goal of reaching their limit of these tasty fish that day, then returning the next for another shot. Personally, I didn’t go there much during that time; it took a bit of skill to learn how to fish and land walleyes, neither of which I was highly adept. And some of those anglers took their fishing very seriously and didn’t cotton to some kid throwing his line out and getting snagged every other cast. That was in April, come May that was my time to shine.

The walleye would move out and the white bass would make their way up the river. If you could bait a hook with a minnow, you could catch white bass and lots of them; there was no limit how many you caught! And if you fished with a lightweight rod and reel, you could have a good fight on your hands. I can’t remember a May I wasn’t on the river fishing. When Cathy and I married and moved away, we’d always come back for a long weekend so I could fish. I brought my children and they loved hooking into as many as we could before going back to Grandpa and Grandma’s house, cleaning our catch, then freezing them in bags of ice to take back to Indiana. Oh, I so much loved that old river and the times I spent on it. But as many of you know, at this point in my life I can see where God used many avenues to teach me of His ways and His love. One was a sunny morning on the old Sandusky.

It was about 77/78 on a trip back to Fremont during the bass run, my buddy and his two young boys headed down to the river with me to try our luck. By this point in time the river had changed a lot. The Army Corp. of Engineers were brought in to construct a floodwall. The course of the river was changed making it flow straighter. Up toward town and near the bridge, the bottom was dredged out making it deeper (No more ice skating). The banks farther up were made steeper and rocks were brought in to replace the trees. The change uptown was a bit saddening to this man, but truthfully since our fair town had a history of devastating floods, the changes were good as well as important. And on this day the four of us made our way down the rocky ridge to the river. Lynn and his older son Jason were walking down the white stones fairly easily but Chad, his youngest was struggling keep his footing, so I stayed close to him. We came to a place where it was a rather long gap for a small boy to span. I went first and saw Chad was still standing hesitant to cross. Placing my rod and tackle box in my left hand I stuck out my right and motioned for him to take it. “It’s okay, I’m right here for you.” In the next instance, if I would have had time, my words would have been, “NO! WAIT!” Instead of understanding I wanted him to take hold of my hand, he did his best Superman leap to me! Instincts kicked in as I dropped my gear a millisecond before he reached my arms. I was off balance on the rocks but with every ounce of strength I could muster I caught him and managed to keep both of us from crashing hard onto the stones. I’m sure sweat was rolling off me like an open faucet, but little Chad had a broad smile that said, “Wasn’t that fun!” Sitting him down he scampered off to where his dad and brother were while I worked at putting items back in my tackle box that had spilled out. Sheesh! Later on, I was telling my Lady about the episode that morning. “It was the craziest thing I ever saw! That child had no doubt I was going to catch him, to be there for him!” He had no doubt that I was going to catch him. That I was going to be there for him. Hmm.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Chad’s act of faith made me realize how often I didn’t trust God to be there for me when I was in despair, when I was falling. Sure, in my darkest moments I prayed a lot that the Lord would rescue me. But I can remember times my thoughts were, “Miller, you’ve really done it this time, there’s no way He can get you out of this one.” But a dear saint named Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” For those who are not familiar with Corrie’s story, she and her family were Dutch watchmakers and also Christians. During WW2 when the Nazis took over her town, she, her sister and father hid Jews and resistance fighters in their home. An informant turned them in and they were sent to concentrations camps where her father passed away ten days after arrival. Corrie and her sister Betsy held Bible studies for the women with whom they were imprisoned. The conditions were terrible and they were treated horribly by the prison guards; still they never gave up on God rescuing them. Betsy took gravely ill and Corrie began losing faith. But before she passed away, she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” When Corrie was released, she went back to aiding ones that being hunted by the Nazis. After the war, she opened shelters for people needing food and a place to stay. She became a speaker traveling to sixty countries telling her story as well as writing a bestselling book, “The Hiding Place” which became a motion picture. She devoted her life to telling others to trust God with all your heart no matter what your situation. What this dear saint went through and never wavered in her conviction that God was still with her made me look at my life in the different light. I mean, after all, how could I compare my struggles with hers. Amen?

Chad is a grown man now and I still see him occasionally. I imagine he doesn’t remember that day on the rocks when he took that “leap of faith” into my arms. But I still do. And I’m so thankful God put this pint-size “Traveler of the Rock Road” in my path to teach me a most valuable lesson. Like the scriptures say in Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Works for me!

Hey Fremont! Happy fish run this Spring!!

See ya next time.




3 responses

6 02 2021

Our middle son has always been a bit of a daredevil. One day my sister-in-law, a former life guard, tried to coax him into the shallow end of a swimming pool. He must have been about three years old. She reached out with both arms—thinking he would be cautious—when he suddenly jumped right in! She actually missed the catch and he went fully underwater. However, when she fished him out a split second later he came up laughing like a little hyena. I remember thinking, my little guy had no doubt that his aunt would catch him. Big people should trust God like that.

I always enjoy your posts. There’s simply nothing like good story with a biblical application.

Thank you, and God Bless.

6 02 2021

Wonderful story!
Thank you for sharing with me David.

13 02 2021
Bette Cox

Good Saturday morning, John. I found your blog through a link on David’s Daily Dose blog. Thanks for sharing your life / stories / testimony online! Blessings from another blogger, Bette Cox, Florence, SC, USA https://estherspetition.wordpress.com

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