Yesterday’s facebook “Perryism”, posted by my friend Perry Hall: “Columbus Day, the day we celebrate a man who got lost and didn’t stop to ask directions.”
Well, Perry, I’m not so sure there was much celebrating yesterday! Except for banks being closed and not receiving any mail, I really couldn’t tell it was a holiday! Of course, Columbus Day is about as popular today in the media as the NFL Washington Redskins.
Yet, Columbus was a great explorer. And while we bear the name of Amerigo Vespucci, who reached the continental mainland in 1497, Christopher Columbus is honored and remembered for discovering “the New World.”
Columbus day, however, is significant more for what it represents than for who received the recognition. Columbus did not waver in his beliefs about the world. He refused to be sidetracked from his goal. He forged ahead with courage. Confidence. Persistence. Patience. And determination. He continued on the course that he had chosen. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of Columbus, “Every ship that comes to America got its chart from Columbus.”
While we tend to think of Columbus’ voyage and his achievement as something glamorous and glorious, much of his journey could be described as mundane. Monotonous. Tedious. Historians that have read his log say there were many days in which Columbus simply wrote, “Today we sailed on.”
The Christian life is like the voyage of Columbus. We often sail a rough and treacherous sea in life. It is fraught with many fears and dangers. There are those who doubt, others who discourage us, and some that will seek to discredit our faith. And there are times the days seem ordinary. Common. Dreary. But like Columbus, we must sail on!
We sail by faith, and not by sight, to appropriate the language of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7. Just as Columbus did not know for sure what was over the horizon, but sailed on in faith, we do the same. Of course, our faith is much deeper, more sure and based on solid evidence. (Heb 11:1) By faith, we sail on!
We sail with a goal in mind. Paul was able to endure much affliction, heartache and trouble because he pressed “toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14). Our ultimate goal is the promised land! But, like Columbus, we must meet short term goals. We must sail one day at a time. But all the while with our eyes on the desired prize, we sail on!
We sail with courage. It takes courage to launch out into the unknown. To weather the storms. To keep going when it is hard. Courage has always been a key component for God’s people. Moses commanded Joshua to “be of good courage.” David exhorted his young son, Solomon, when he came to the throne to “be strong and of good courage.” The “Christian sailor” must be fearless. With courage, we sail on!
We will sail with persistence, patience and determination. We will not waver. We will not quit. We will not give in. We will not give up. (1Cor. 15:58) And so, in the words of the poem “Columbus” by Joaquin Miller, “What shall we do when hope is gone? The words leapt like a leaping sword: Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! And on!
Why? Because we know the mighty ocean is not crossed in a single day. That old destructive habits are not discarded in a day. Better behaviors are not developed in a day. Success is not achieved in a day. Children are not raised to be productive citizens in a day. And Christian maturity is not attained in a day.
And so today sail on. Whatever your challenge, sail on. Wherever you’re headed, sail on. Regardless of the obstacle, sail on. And no matter how mundane and mediocre your day may be, sail on!
Ken Weliever, The Preacherman