Houseboat Dreams

I know a man who dreamed of retiring, buying a houseboat, and spending some years floating up and down the Mississippi River with his wife and occasionally having kids and grandkids and friends and family spend some time with them on their houseboat. It was his idea of a camper, but this one was for the water. His wife always loved the water as a kid, and he thought this would be a great way to see a small bit of the country.

Well, retirement came, but the houseboat never showed up. The dreams of floating downriver to the Gulf, seeing the sights, fishing, docking in various river towns, seeing the sights, and meeting the people were never realized.

Oh, he could have swung the boat payment because it would replace the house payment, in fact would be less. Insurance and upkeep would be less most likely, and the added expense of fuel and maintenance on the motor, and perhaps a slip rental in a southern location during the winter months. It was definitely possible.

But it never happened.

Instead they moved out of the three-bedroom two-bathroom house into a duplex in the same town where four of their grandkids lived. His health had taken a left turn, as often happens with men who have done hard physical work most of their life. His wife had retired about three years earlier, and now they had a lot of time on their hands.

Because of mechanical issues they decided to sell the old pick up, and since it was no longer necessary to have a second vehicle, it wasn’t replaced. Less insurance costs, less fuel costs, no maintenance costs on a second vehicle.

They realized some benefits of down-sizing: Utility bills decreased, no lawn care, and no snow removal. A plus for the “seniors” they had become. And they always seemed to have good neighbors. Now they were only 2 minutes away from four of their grandchildren, and they were glad to start helping out– taking someone to school or picking them up, attending soccer games, birthday parties, musicals, school plays– and watching them grow up. (They were four hours way from their other grandchildren, but that made visiting them especially meaningful.)

No, the houseboat didn’t show up, and those plans for retirement didn’t work out, but looking back I wouldn’t change much, except for spending even more time with my kids and grandkids. But I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in more than one of his letters:

Philippians 4:11

“…. for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Philippians 4:12

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Then the writer of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 13:5

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

And in Proverbs 16: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

We should not be afraid to plan our future, but we must acknowledge – and accept – that God is in control, and we must include Him, allow Him, indeed ask Him to lead us in our life choices and plans for the future.

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