Remember This When Life Feels Overwhelming

When Life Feels Overwhelming - Grace Fox

Our circumstances may leave us feeling traumatized. But keeping our eyes on the unchanging Christ will help us weather the storm.

Sailor-Man and I took the Makana away from the dock for the weekend. We could never have written the script for what took place.

First, the alternator quit working. Then we experienced engine failure not once, not twice, but three times on our way home. The first failure meant retracing our journey twelve nautical miles to the only safe place to anchor so Sailor-man could try to fix the engine.

As he worked, a large wave came from behind, lifted the Makana’s stern, and dragged the dingy underneath. This resulted in its being punctured. Picture Sailor-Man desperately trying to rescue it before the weight of its motor pulled it underwater as I clung to the back of his shirt lest a rogue wave wash him overboard. He managed to winch it aboard but our oars and safety kit floated away.

When we finally got going after the second engine failure and fix, we realized that reaching home before nightfall was impossible. We motored up the Fraser River in the dark keeping our eyes peeled for the flashing red lights on the guiding buoys.

The plot thickened

With sighs of relief, we pulled into a public marina. Three feet from the dock, the motor died for a third and final time. We drifted toward a group of wooden pilings and lodged against them. Trouble was, it was so close to shore that our keel would get stuck in the mud at low tide. The clock was ticking.

The pilings and our boat-home today
The pilings and our boat-home today

Gene returned to the engine compartment to see what he could do while I sat in the cockpit and prayed. Suddenly a spotlight shone on me and a voice from nearby bushes said, “Do you need help?” I said, “Yes, we’ve had engine problems all day and my husband is trying to fix it right now.”

Angels sent to rescue us? Not.

Then the voice identified itself. “We are the Canadian Border Patrol Agency. You entered USA waters today—twice—and failed to report when you re-entered Canada. Please come to the dock so we can have a conversation.” My heart stopped. Seriously?

Gene called a towing service. Docking the Makana nearly resulted in catastrophe, but when everything settled down, the border guards began questioning us. Our boat had shown up on their radar with its original name as registered in the States. During COVID, boats are not allowed to travel between Canada and the USA. So, according to their trackers, here was a USA-registered boat in Canadian waters.

When our engine failed, the only safe place to anchor was immediately beside a Canadian ferry terminal. Apparently, the water there is considered USA. So we traveled from Canada into the States and back again. Their “assets” had followed all our movement, even traveling up river “under the cover of darkness.”

The threat of a fine or imprisonment

“Because you entered the USA and then re-entered Canada, you will have to quarantine for fourteen days,” said one guard. “You will be monitored about this. Failure to comply will result in a $750,000 fine or six months in jail.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and I told him so. He replied, “Lady, this is no laughing matter.”

Thankfully he gave me the opportunity to explain every detail of our day’s journey. Maybe he felt sorry for us, or maybe God pulled off a miracle. Either way, he and the others believed me and retracted the quarantine edict after confirming that we’d had no contact with anyone while anchored due to engine failure.

“You drifted into USA waters,” he declared. “We’re glad you’re safe. If the police contact you, tell them we’ve had this conversation.” Then they bid us goodbye.

Overwhelmed or overwhelmed with joy?

Sailor-Man and I fell into bed at 1:30 AM. We woke this morning feeling a bit traumatized. Our adrenalin was still pumping, I’m sure. He since discovered a crack in our new engine starter and is off to a fix-it shop. Looks like we’ll be tied to this dock for yet another night. Who would have thought our weekend getaway could have turned into this? Like I say, we couldn’t have written the script.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that I read Isaiah 61:10 as we initially began our journey home. It begins with the words,

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God.”

Sailor-Man and I talked about that sentence and agreed on how easily we can feel overwhelmed when the winds blow and the waves thrash us about both literally and figuratively.

Overwhelmed by our circumstances is sooo not how God intends for His children to live.

Overwhelmed in a good way

God’s desire is for us to navigate life overwhelmed by His goodness, His grace, His holiness, and His faithfulness. Our circumstances might not turn out as we wish. They may, in fact, be so difficult that they leave us feeling traumatized. But keeping our eyes on the unchanging Christ will help us weather the storm.

This I Know

I don’t want to have a repeat of yesterday. Ever. But I also know that the LORD my God gave me the strength and courage needed to deal with the happenings. He’ll do the same for you, my friend, because He is overwhelmingly good.

Know you are loved,


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  1. I have enjoyed your devotions in Mornings With Jesus; and I enjoyed how you turned a day of life on a boat into a devotional to the praises of God. I hope you don’t mind; I may try to do the same when we finally get to live on our boat; one year from now. God Bless you.

  2. Thank you Grace for sharing your boating experience. Your praying patience , and calmness encourages me. When I’m overwhelmed unfortunately I become so fearful and forget to pray. I want to have all three of those qualities. Again, thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Jeanette. I’m not always so calm when things beyond my control happen on the boat. Oh my. Sometimes I just cover my eyes and pray really loud! LOL. We’re all in a learning process, right?

  3. Grace, this post really captured my attention, as I felt so for all you went through to return home. So thankful God worked everything out. Thank you for sharing this. It’s an encouragement to all of us to remember that we are not in control but must rely on the Lord for everything.

  4. Hi Lenora. Thanks for posting here! It was QUITE the trip to come home. My oh my. Lots of prayers, for sure. And now I have lots of writing material I wouldn’t have had otherwise. All is well.

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