DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: We’re in the same boat; let love rule

Follow Jesus by doing small acts of love.

Rev. Roger Grafenstein
Contributed / Roger Grafenstein
We are part of The Trust Project.

My wife usually sat up front with our last canoe. She placed an “I fish” sticker on the bow. At the stern, I had an “I paddle” sticker. I like fishing but enjoy exploring more. My wife likes exploring, but fishing lures her in every time.

Lately, I often think about differences. From the war in Ukraine to the “please share less” micro-war between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, we are inundated with stories of human beings at odds.

When our two kids were little, all four of us were in the same canoe. There were good moments: hearing then seeing a huge snapping turtle traipse toward us through the grasses like an ancient dinosaur and plunge into the water; paddling from a campsite to a beach on a sunny day, watching our children cast into clear waters and reel in a fish.

Conversely, we heard, “I’m tired.” “I want a real seat.” “I’m hungry.” “Stop leaning the canoe.” I said the latter too much. A canoe is a small space for differing temperaments and wants, hungers and hopes, rules and expectations.

One time, our son toddled up to my wife in the bow of the canoe, got in front of her, and tried to crawl upon the bow. He fell into a chilly northland lake. I grabbed the handle on his lifejacket and lifted him into the canoe just before we glided past him. Yes, I broke my rule about not leaning the canoe.


Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, he often paused to teach his closest followers how to live a life on earth like it is in heaven. In John 13:34, Jesus shared a lesson on living together with differences—and they had their differences. “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you must love each other.”

By the standard of a man who chose a cross for love, carrying a book along in the canoe for when my wife wanted to still-fish was a small act of love. With Jesus-like love as the standard, placing my desire to paddle and explore on hold was a little kindness. My wife, likewise, often put fishing on hold many times, picking up her paddle to help me explore. Love! Life in the same boat is much better when we show respect—by choosing to let love rule.

“Love one another, just as I have loved you” (Jesus). How might you show Jesus-like love by making even a small sacrifice for another’s joy today? How might you overcome differences with a gesture of respect?

Rev. Roger Grafenstein serves as pastor of Riverside United Methodist Church.
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