I read this week a fascinating account of Susie Goodall’s quest to circumnavigate the globe, sailing solo in a 36-foot sailboat as part of the 2018 Golden Globe race around the world. The quest was referred to as a “voyage for madmen,” and with 18 sailors entering the race, Goodall would be the only woman to participate.
Sailors in the Golden Globe race in 2018 would follow the course charted by Robin Knox-Johnson when he sailed around the world in 1968. Fifty years later, those who were entered in the second Golden Globe race were limited to the same technology that had been available a half century before. They would have to navigate with paper charts and sextant, catch rain for water, handwrite their logs, and communicate only by radio. No outside assistance would be allowed: no physical contact with anyone else, no help with repairs, no supply deliveries. GPS was not allowed. No satellite communication was permitted. Solar panels were excluded. In the original race in 1968, nine sailors had begun the quest, with only one finishing.
The story is a fascinating one, and you can read it here if you’d like.
One part of Goodall’s story that struck me happened while she was testing her boat and training for the race. She had sailed across the Atlantic and back, so she could experience first-hand many of the challenges she would face once the race was officially underway.
One of those challenges came as she was returning to England from Antigua. She had an engine aboard the ship, which, because of a limited fuel supply, was used only in hard to maneuver settings where it could provide better navigational control. But the engine had broken down on the homeward leg of her voyage. The article recounts the challenge facing the ship’s skipper.
“As she neared the Azores, a chain of islands 1,000 miles west of Portugal, a scattering of anchored boats and a maze of docks lay ahead… The prospect of coming into harbor with no engine, no room for error, and certain consequences if she hit someone’s boat had been weighing on her mind for days. Heavy weather was close on her heels. She hoped desperately to outrun it, and that some harbormaster might pick her up on the radio and agree to tow her in.
“’Please,’ she said out loud. She wasn’t sure who or what she was talking to. Maybe the ocean itself. ‘Show me a sign. I just need to know that everything’s going to be OK.’
“Suddenly, Ariadne was surrounded by dolphins…
“Goodall had crossed most of the Atlantic without seeing much wildlife at all. Now she’d gone from an empty sea to surrounded by dolphins in minutes. It was as if they were telling her everything would be all right.
Moments later her radio crackled to life. It was the harbormaster. She got a tow before the storm hit.”
What struck me as I read that account was the very human impulse experienced by a very capable, very skilled young woman in a moment of quiet desperation when, alone at sea, she realized she was at the mercy of the winds and the tides. Her ship, which was sailing under her control, was sailing on an ocean that was far beyond her control.
And when she saw how dire was the circumstance facing her, she did instinctively what her soul knew to do. She prayed. A one word prayer. “Please.”
I was reminded as I read her account of something I’ve shared with you before, something I read from CS Lewis years ago when he was asked why we should bother to pray. If God is indeed all knowing, all loving, all wise and all powerful, and if He is sovereign over all things, what good does it do to pray?
Lewis said that we pray for the same reason we breathe. We breathe because we are human. Our lungs are desperate for air. In the same way, our souls are desperate to connect with the God who we know exists and is in control. In those moments when our lives are spinning out of control, we cry out.
There is nothing in the article that indicates that Susie Goodall believes in God. The fact that she whispered here petition, asking someone or something to guide her boat into the harbor in the Azores is evidence that her soul knows better than her head and heart.
In her quest to sail around the world, Goodall survived two massive storms that tossed her 36 foot sailboat around like it was toothpick. In hindsight, Goodall was able to look back and see how in the midst of one of the storms, a remarkable convergence of “coincidences” kept her alive. Her father told her later that it was her destiny to live.
People have no problem believing in destiny. Or coincidences. When trials come, we reflexively call out for help. Our restless souls long for rest. Ultimately, what keeps any of us from acknowledging the reality of God is our understanding of the implications of that acknowledgement. If there is a creator God who is in control, then we are accountable to Him. We have to bow the knee.
Maybe one day Susie Goodall will connect the dots. Maybe she will see that there’s another, better word for coincidence. It’s Providence.
And maybe the next time Susie whispers “Please” in the middle of a crisis, she’ll know there is a God who hears and answers prayers.
TRUNK -OR- TREAT
|0nce again, thanks to all the volunteers who helped us love and serve our neighbors with our Trunk or Treat event. In spite of the rain, more than 150 folks stopped by and had a great evening. And again, thanks to all who donated candy!|
MEN’S BREAKFAST – SAT NOV 19
Guys, it’s almost time for a little food and fellowship! Make a note on your calendar and plan to join us on Saturday morning, November 19 at 8:30. Plan now to attend and then sign up as soon as you get next week’s newsletter so we can have some idea of how many eggs to scramble!
Parents – make sure your kids know about the Student Ministries Game Night this Friday night.
FIRST FRIDAY GAME NIGHT – 6-12th Gr
|There’s a lot happening at church this Sunday morning. First, make sure you cash in on your extra hour of sleep on Saturday night.|
|After your bonus hour of rest, here’s what’s happening.|
Joe and Dana Neff (missionaries we support as a church) will be with us. We’ll get an update from them about their work with Teach Beyond. We’ll brief you on our plans this Christmas to again bless the students at Arbor Christian Academy in the Dominican Republic and how you can help make sure every student has his or her own Bible. And we’ll talk about how together we can make this Christmas a Super Spreader event as we easily and comfortably share the gospel with our friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers.
In addition, we’ll once again look at what was on the heart of Jesus in the hours before His crucifixion as He cried out to God in prayer. And we’ll see why the gift of eternal life is about a lot more than living forever.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!