It happened during the winter of 1980/1981, when our kids were just 4 and 2 years old. By a miracle of God’s provision my husband and I found ourselves on a freighter ship bound for our new mission field of Argentina. The Greek owner of our ship, the Penelope II, had graciously granted us free passage, and we enjoyed eating our meals daily at the captain’s table. We were especially thankful for not having to worry about cooking or cleaning, since I was recovering from an operation for an ectopic pregnancy that I had undergone just two months previous. Keeping two small children occupied and, oh yes, did I mention we also had our dog Tiina along? was about all we had to worry about.
We had embarked in the Greek port of Piraeus in December when the weather in the Mediterranean was still relatively mild, and sailed through the Bosporus straits up to the Romanian port of Constanta to take on additional cargo before setting out on our trans-Atlantic voyage to Buenos Aires. It would be 9 more years before Communism would fall in Eastern Europe, so the dock workers were not that overly concerned with how fast our vessel was being loaded. There we would sit, day after day, staring out the tiny portal of our cabin trying to see if any work was going on. Some days they worked, other days they would leave after an hour or two, and some days no work was done at all. It was difficult for us to figure out their schedule. We ended up sitting in port for a total of 53 days, watching the temperatures steadily drop as winter set in.
By the time the ship was fully loaded and ready to depart it was February, just about the time of year when Paul himself was warning the crew of the ship on which he was an unwilling passenger in Acts chapter 27 that “I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.” They, of course, ended up shipwrecked in Malta. We prayed our fate would not be the same as theirs – or worse!
Although heavily laden and lying deep in the water, the force 12 gales were so strong that the reeling to and fro caused even the seasoned sailors on our ship to lose their lunch. The children thought it was great fun, while we did our best to keep our composure and our stomachs where they belonged. Could this vessel actually sink? Would this be the end? Unlike Jonah, who was headed out of God’s Will, we knew the Lord had shown us to go this direction, and had supplied for us this very ship. So I cried out to the Lord for His help! “Jesus, please help us! Help me to get over the seasickness, and calm this sea!”
I stood up, and He gave me the strength to walk right up to the bridge, which was no easy task considering how the ship sways even more severely from side-to-side the higher you are above water level. We we had spent many long hours on the bridge under calmer conditions chatting with the captain, studying the navigator’s maps, and admiring the majesty of God’s creation, but now it seemed that same might was set to destroy us! Upon my arrival I found the captain there alone. None of the crew could handle the movement. I joined him in his vigil, and stayed with him until we had passed below Sicily where we found refuge from the blast of the wintry billows. Some material damage was sustained, but no one was hurt. Like Paul, our prayers had been answered.
The Lord reminded me of this experience following my recent difficulties, and showed me an important lesson from it. That is, to face any storm of life unafraid! Just climb up on top of the situation. Rise above! Get up there on the bridge and take firm hold of the Captain’s hand. Jesus is our Pilot, and together we will soon be into safer waters! It takes faith to pray, yes. But with guts and gumption to get up and act, the results will be wonderful!
Don’t just lie there in your misery! Get up and fight! Don’t take the storms of life lying down! Take the bull by the horns! Go for the kill! The everyday battles of life may sometimes seem overwhelming, but the victory is yours, waiting right around the corner! And it is worth fighting for!
Most people’s natural tendency is usually to resist difficulty. Hide from it. Close their eyes. Hope it will go away. But why does a mountain climber fly to Nepal? Or a soldier request duty on the front line? It’s to face the challenge bold and brave, and unafraid. They are seasoned veterans who relish the battle. Let’s admit it, life is a battle, and we will be facing them till the day we die! So let’s learn to face the storms of life, not letting sensitivity and pride get the best of us, and we will come through the on other side victorious!