Reel Issues

by Joanie Butman

Last summer I was sitting on the porch with my father-in-law when he mentioned that his friend, Jack Kervorkian, was coming for a visit. Whoa, his wife’s health must be worse than I thought. “Did you tell Elinor?” I inquired. I know if my spouse invited Dr. Death for lunch, I’d be a little wary – especially if I was 96 and in failing health! Jokingly, I asked whether he had made any plans that we should know about. I don’t know if it was a Freudian slip, but after having to explain my comments about Dr. Death and who he was, I discovered the name of his new friend was not Kervorkian but Ketchopulos.

Well, during my brief respite in Florida over New Year’s, I had the pleasure of meeting my father-in-law’s friend who I will always think of as Jack Kervorkian because Paul continues to slip up and refer to him as such. After meeting Jack and his wife, Debbie, I immediately understood my father-in-law’s affection for this couple. In direct contrast to the namesake Paul confuses him with, this Jack isn’t interested in helping anyone die – but helping them live. He and his wife’s companionship, compassion, generosity, gentleness, and kindness to my 96-yr-old in-laws is a living example of the fruits of the spirit regardless of what their religious beliefs are or are not. I honestly don’t know, nor does it matter.

Jack’s generosity extends to the rest of our family as well. He lent us his boat for an excursion one day and, through no fault of our own, we managed to get it stuck on the boat lift. While attempting to dislodge his boat that was now dangling at a precarious angle, he lent my 17 and 19-yr-old ‘kids’ some fishing poles. After just one cast, my daughter found herself in a tangled mess. Embarrassed to admit her predicament, she spent the next hour trying to detangle her line. Frustrated and fearful, she came in to ask me what she should do. Immediately, I stated the obvious, “Go tell Jack. He’ll help you. He’s right next door.” No way. She was determined to fix it and proceeded to suck my husband and me into her drama – a familiar scenario. I need to add here that Jack is a recently retired professional fisherman so he would be the logical person to ask for help – not a girl from Brooklyn who’s never owned a fishing pole. I can’t tell you why I didn’t insist on going directly to him, but people (especially my kids) don’t necessarily heed good advice anyway.

Fast forward another half hour and we are now in the garage dismantling the entire reel because whatever we tried was just making matters worse. In walks Jack and we are caught in the act. There we were, each holding a different piece of the reel, with a pile of tangled line on the floor. We explain what happened and true to form, Jack’s only response was, “Happens all the time. No problem. It’s easily fixed. Why didn’t you come get me?” He chuckled as he noticed the rudimentary (and inappropriate) tools we were using to no avail. Embarrassed, my daughter continued to apologize even while he assured her that he could and would take care of it. Jack took the rod and the reel in its various pieces and graciously lifted that mess right out of our hands while my daughter and I went to relax at the beach.

Isn’t that what we all do with God on occasion? We get our lives into a tangled mess, and instead of going directly to the only One who has the ability to ease our burden, we struggle in secret, making the situation worse – often dragging those around us into our mess as well. Eventually, if we allow it, He finds us struggling and stumbling amidst the web of our own line. That is when He steps in to free us from our twisted snares, lighten our load, allay our fears, and assure us that He is in control. He is waiting, not in anger but in love, to help us through any situation in which we find ourselves so that we can relax in the comfort and security of His everlasting arms – so much better than a day at the beach.

Christ was passionate about helping people live. He said as much in the gospel of John. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” That is our blessed assurance – but only if we choose to take advantage of it. My daughter doesn’t necessarily listen to my advice to bring her issues to God any more than she did in seeking Jack’s help, BUT my hope is that by watching me choose to continually seek His presence, guidance, comfort and assurance, she will know the option exists and is readily available to her whenever she chooses. He’s always right next door, waiting for her knock. That’s the best I can offer because it’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves.

Who do you choose as your go-to?