I read a story recently that I found very profound and I thought I would share it with you.
Standing on the deck of a fishing boat in the waters of Panama, Denise Leblanc’s heart beat fast when she realized a blue marlin was on the other end of her fishing pole. Deep-sea fishing with a group of friends in the Caribbean was a dream vacation—something on her “bucket list” of things to do. Since Denise had caught one the day before, she handed the pole to a friend to have the opportunity.
A fierce fighter like the marlin usually takes a couple of hours to exhaust enough to reel in. It was late afternoon and the boat's captain wanted to get back so he put the boat in reverse, allowing slack in the line to reel in faster. They had the still-green fish to the boat within about half an hour. The first mate estimated it to be twelve feet long and approximately six hundred pounds.
As the first mate leaned over to grab the lure, Denise could see the fish’s angry eyes glare at her. Then, in a flash, the marlin catapulted up out of the water and lunged right at her. The razor sharp bill gored through her right arm, through her right breast and out of her side, literally skewering her. The enraged creature violently jerked Denise back and forth, lifting her body off the ground, as if trying to flip her back into the water. Instinctively, she put her free hand out and it made contact with a pole and braced herself. The bill slid out and the fish slipped back into the ocean.
This story is excerpted from Amazing Grace for Mothers and Denise also shared it on Oprah, even though she initially turned both down. She had no desire for publicity, but the realization nagged at her, that by sharing her story, she could help others to live well. You see, it was not until Denise lay on the deck dying that she encountered God, from whom she had been running. She was suddenly flooded with an overwhelming love that she said words could not describe. But until that moment, she was far from the Catholic faith she had been born into and was actually angry with God for her life’s many hardships.
Denise fully recovered after an unbelievable ordeal and life and death struggle that followed. But spiritually, she has never gone back to the way she was before. Life and death made the important things in life clear, with God being the most important.
Most of us will not ever experience such a dramatic ordeal. Yet we have all had thoughts of life or death when suddenly everything is clear. A bad illness, a difficult labor and delivery for ourselves or spouse, even bad turbulence on a plane—can wipe away the insignificant and get us to focus on what is really important. But rather than wait until a crises or scare, we can live well now.
There are always tragic stories in the news showing just how short life is. Many have witnessed this reality around them. Yet, are we really spending our days doing what matters or just going through the motions until we can check off the items on our retirement bucket list?
With this being November, and Advent is only a few weeks away, it’s a good time to ask ourselves how much time are we spending on what really counts. Is our Christmas bucket list in line with what God has in mind for us? It is a good time to formulate a list that really matters.