'Abandoning the ship, but not the shipmates'
The news item that follows this headline recounts the events of a crew of fishermen who stayed with their mate, 18-year-old Michael Petton, earlier this week when they had to abandon their burning crab boat off the coast of Newfoundland.
Michael was dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt (his survival suit had been lost in the fire) when he was forced to plunge into near freezing waters while his mates were fully protected in survival suits. The story tells of love and bravery in the icy waters of the North Atlantic (The Toronto Globe and Mail, June 5).
For almost two hours, Michael's fellow crew members kept him warm by staying at his side until a rescue helicopter finally arrived. Their Mayday message had been heard at home, and the families and friends of the Nautical Legacy sailors were praying for their safety. On Sunday they celebrated together at a special church service in Port de Grave, Newfoundland.
The incident reminded me of the famous flying ace, Eddie Rickenbacker. I read about a time when he was lost at sea during World War II, and New York City's Mayor Fiorello La Guardia asked the whole city to pray for Mr. Rickenbacker. He and his entire crew came back.
When interviewed after a return to the States, one of his men said, "I'm glad that plane fell. It took a lot of nonsense out of my life. I shall like the things I liked before, but there is something new inside me that won't permit me to forget that God stayed right by us out there" (M.L. Runbeck, "The Great Answer").
This man's acknowledgment of God's presence with him is a prayer of affirmation. Praying for ourselves and our loved ones is abiding in the consciousness that God is with us, and with them, every moment. Prayer is acknowledging that we cannot step outside divine Love's embrace. We can turn to God in prayer and see the divine presence made practical in tangible ways in our lives.
We may never have to face down a challenge as chilling as that icy ocean, but the truths that see us through our own testing times bolster us and strengthen our faith in God's goodness. Jesus promised that "with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).
One of my first memories of praying to prove this promise was when I was 7 years old and my younger brother was pulled from a backyard swimming pool – blue and apparently lifeless. At the time, I didn't fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation, but I knew from the look on my mother's face that she was turning to God with all her heart. My brothers and sister and I did our best to do the same.
Emergency help was called. What a joy it was when before they arrived, my brother began to cough up water and then to cry. A physician in our neighborhood advised that my brother be taken to the hospital for observation, and without medication or medical procedures he was released the next morning with a clean bill of health.
Unsought experiences such as these give us opportunities to face down fear, and trust in God, good, to carry us through to victory. My brother experienced no after-effects, and by the next day he was busy keeping pace with his twin. This event had a profound effect on every member of my family. It permanently strengthened our trust that God does indeed meet our every need.
Mary Baker Eddy described this always available law in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good" (p. 494).
This law is provable through prayer, today and every day.