Sinking in Pelican Bay

A rusty sunken ship resting on its side

“It was a dark and stormy night,” as the old stories used to begin. But this was not a story; this was true—and in our modern times—and in “Pelican Bay,” not far away. It was about 10:30 at night when a towboat crew reported to the Coast Guard that they had found a capsized dinghy floating in the bay. There was clothing and other debris floating, and they knew there was something wrong.

Nearing the site, the Coast Guard found another boat, a sailboat, also sinking. This boat held a survivor, Jean-Francois Duplaa, the owner of both boats, still clinging to the mast. As he struggled to climb the wet and slippery mast, four- and five-foot waves continually crashed down on him. A very little more would wash him away.

>No time was wasted! The Coast Guard radioed for a helicopter and a rescue swimmer, Petty Officer First Class Curt Rohrich. He quickly fastened the harness from the helicopter to the struggling man, wrapped his arms around him, and they were hoisted into the helicopter together. The rescued man was taken into a hospital for evaluation. A happy ending to an unexpected adventure! The sailor’s life was saved, and even the sailboat may be salvaged.

It could easily have ended so differently. What if there had been no Coast Guard crew? no rescue swimmer? no helicopter? What if all his struggles to climb ended with him alone on the “dark and stormy” water? There would have been no hope for him when the mast slipped under the waves. No help, no hope—even if he reached the very top of the sinking mast. No matter what his efforts to save himself, he soon would have vanished beneath the tossing, tumbling water. What a tragedy for him!

If we only look around, we can see the same story being reenacted in many, many ways. So many of life’s sailors are really struggling to “climb the mast” and reach a higher level of “goodness” to get to heaven. But if the ship is sinking, what will the effort be worth? Help and rescue must come from above, from One who is able to save you from Hell. The Lord Jesus Christ is One—the only One—who came all the way from heaven at immense cost and suffering to Himself, to lift us up to heaven and out of the deadly waters. You have probably heard about Him for years, but you must accept His salvation so freely offered, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Please do not reject this offer of salvation “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

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