3 Life Lessons From Columbus


“Alaska Renames Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day” read yesterday’s on-line Time headline.

Alaska has joined a growing number of states and local governments that are moving away from celebrating Columbus Day. Since less than half of the states celebrate the accomplishment of Columbus, most of you probably worked yesterday.

Columbus Day is losing ground to a continued social movement of political correctness. While fiction has always obscured some of the facts regarding the great explorer, it’s apparent that the average person knows little of his voyage and accomplishments.

Someone joked that the that there were three profound things about Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America: First, when he left Spain he didn’t know where he was going. Second, when he arrived in the New World he didn’t know where he was. Third, when he returned to Spain he didn’t know where he had been!

But the fact is Columbus was a great explorer. 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.”

His journey, challenges and accomplishments are analogous to our voyage as Christians, his obvious short-comings not withstanding. 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!

The Bible commands Christians to “Continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23).

To live a steadfast Christian life requires at least three things.

(1) Conviction. Just like Columbus was convinced in his conviction about the unknown world, our faith in God, His Son, and the Word of God must be strong. The apostle Paul said, “I know in whom I have believed!” That’s conviction! To be steadfast is to be faithful, true, and loyal to our convictions.

(2) Courage. Columbus was obviously a brave man to set sail for the unknown world. Who knew what dangers lurked? What problems would befall them? Or what obstacles would complicate their journey?

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?! Especially the Christian life. It takes courage to be faithful to our convictions. The Christian is embolden because of his faith in God. The Psalmist said,  “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Ps 27:14)

(3) Commitment. Columbus was committed to his cause. He was invested mentally and emotionally in his mission and persuaded others to invest financially.

The Christian life is one of total commitment. We must be completely invested in God’s promise. In the success of our journey. And the hope of a new world that waits us.

The Devil will try to detour us. But the apostle Peter exhorted us to “resist him, (and be) steadfast in the faith” (I Pet 5:9) When we are steadfast we are unfaltering, unshakable and unwavering in our commitment.

Christianity is a journey of faith. It’s not for the faint of heart. Be determined. Be dauntless. Be dedicated. Sail on.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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