Years ago, in a small fishing village on the coast of New England, a winter storm blew up suddenly and caught the small boats out at sea. The men rowed hard to reach the safety of the harbor, and all the boats made it in except for one. Just when it was almost there, a huge wave struck and hurled it up against a rock. The boat was captained by an old man named John. With his boat in ruins, he did the only thing he could do: pull himself up onto the rock and commence to hang on for dear life.
John’s fellow fishermen saw his plight, but there wasn’t anything they could do about it. The idea of taking rescue boats out into the teeth of the storm was ludicrous. To further complicate matters, it would soon be dark. So being the good, practical New Englanders they were, they decided to wait until the morning to attempt a rescue. In the meantime, they built a bonfire on the shore and dedicated themselves to keeping it burning all night. Every now and then, by the light of that bonfire, one of the men would throw his cap up into the air just to let John know they were there and hadn’t abandoned him.
Finally, after a long, rough night, the winds subsided and the dawn broke. The fishermen put out their boats and were able to rescue old John. After he had warmed himself by the fire and been given something to eat, they asked him what it had been like out there on that rock all night. Here’s what he said:
Well, it was the longest night of my life. I made out pretty well at first, but then a big wave came along and flattened me out and I felt myself slipping. I was worn out. I was ready to give up. My old father went down at sea, and I had decided my time had come. But just as I was ready to let go, I looked through the darkness and saw somebody’s cap going up in the air. I said to myself, “If there’s somebody who cares enough about old John to stay out on a night like this, I guess I’m not going to quit yet.” Just then the winds seemed to ease up, and I got a fresh hold, and well, here I am.
With this story in mind, I’ll ask you to throw up a cap yourself today. Johns are out there everywhere, just trying to hold for dear life. Find someone who needs some encouragement and let them know that you appreciate them. Let them know they’d be missed if they weren’t around. Let them know that you care. You might just give that person reason to keep pressing on rather than quit.