WASN’T IT A MIGHTY STORM...
A mighty storm had made the ocean a furious monster. Rain fell in sheets. Lightning exploded across the black skies. The wind blew relentlessly out of the north.
The boat was able to stay afloat but only for so long. A strong wave hit the bow and turned it side ways. That is when a monstrous wave rose up and swamped the decks...rolling the boat onto its side and sending it to the bottom of the ocean.
Two men had been standing at the stern, holding on to the rails for dear life. When that huge wave washed over them, it tossed them like toys into the churning water, each in different directions. They lost track of each other as they struggled to not be sucked under in the vortex of the sinking boat. The dark night swallowed them both up.
Each had struggled and fought throughout the dark night to keep from drowning. Somehow, when the first rays of sunlight erupted over the eastern horizon, they were both still alive. The storm had passed, the skies had cleared and the monster had been tamed.
One of the men heard the other calling out for help. He shouted back and began swimming toward the voice. The two found each other among the debris that remained floating on the surface. It and they were all that was left of the boat.
Not wanting to admit their predicament was hopeless, one of the men closed his eyes and prayed a silent prayer. Opening them, the first thing he saw was a small dot on the horizon. He pointed to it...
“There,” he said, “We must do whatever we can to get there. There we will be safe.”
They swam for hours and hours until the tiny dot on the horizon began to look more and more like an island. Realizing what it was, their determination to reach it became their driving force.
After what felt like an eternity, they dragged themselves out of the surf and crawled ashore.
They sat in the sand, celebrating their survival but having no other choice but to accept their situation. They were trapped and they knew it. Unbeknownst to one another, one of the men had no hope of being rescued. The other understood it was his destiny to die on that island.
The two of them were strangers to one another, having only met a few hours before the ship sank. One was a rich businessman who had achieved great success in his life. The other was a simple carpenter, meek and humble. Despite having no benefit of a relationship or sharing much in common, they knew they needed to come up with a plan on how best to solve their desperate situation.
The carpenter suggested they pray. The businessman dismissed the notion as senseless...
“If there was God,” he said, “we wouldn’t be on this island to begin with. A caring God would have kept the ship safe. Those other people would be alive and we never would have been thrown overboard.”
“My God does not work that way,” the carpenter answered. “Things like this happen every day. It is life. Now is the time for faith. Now we need to pray and ask for deliverance from what life has done to us.”
The two men argued. There was to be no agreeing on what they should do. The businessman suggested they each go to a different side of the island. The carpenter, knowing the businessman was not going to change his mind, agreed and walked into the jungle.
The businessman nervously and impatiently paced back and forth on the beach, searching the horizon for any signs of a rescue ship.
The carpenter sat down in the sand, praying that God might change the businessman’s heart.
Days passed and turned into weeks. Not knowing what else to do, the businessman knelt down in the sand and for the first time in his life prayed to God for help.
The first thing he prayed for was food. He prayed until the sun went down and sleep overtook him. In the morning, he woke and suddenly noticed a fruit-tree had been right there all the time...he had just never seen it. It was filled with the most succulent fruit. He gorged himself on it, never giving the carpenter a second thought.
Sadly, the carpenter’s side of the island was the windward side...barren and without fruit trees. He remained hungry.
After a week, the businessman had been thinking about life the way it had been before the boat sank. There were parties and grand celebrations...women were plentiful and he was never lonely. Money can buy anything.
And so he returned to his knees and began to pray for a companion. He prayed until the sun disappeared and night came once again.
Amazingly, the very next day his prayer was answered. There had been another ship that had gone down off shore in the same storm. There was only one survivor...a woman. And like what the men had done, she too noticed the small dot on the horizon and began swimming. She had come ashore on the leeward side of the island that the businessman had claimed. One morning when the businessman awoke, he noticed her bathing in surf.
The carpenter, on the other side, remained alone.
The businessman, believing prayer was the answer to all his needs, dropped again and again to his knees...putting his wants and desires out there for God to provide. He prayed for shelter to be able to sleep out of the rain and harsh sunlight. He discovered a cave the next morning.
He prayed for clothes to replace the tattered rags his had become. The next morning, a suitcase that was part of the debris of the ill-fated ship floated in the surf just off the beach. In it were clothes that fit him perfectly.
Tiring of eating only fruit, he prayed for more food. Just inside the grove of trees on the island he found nuts and coconuts and wild berries.
The carpenter remained without food or shelter or clothes or companionship. But each day he dropped to his knees and fervently prayed.
Realizing one day that his prayers were all being answered as if they were magic, the businessman began to pray for a ship to rescue him. In the morning, he woke to find a boat at anchor in the water just off the shore.
He jumped from his bed, leaving his companion behind and swam out to the boat. Climbing aboard, he demanded the captain to immediately sail away from the dreaded island that had been his prison for months.
The captain did as he was told. He ordered the anchor hauled and for the helmsman to get under way. Just as the ship was about to leave, the captain approached the businessman and asked a question...
“Why are you leaving your companion behind on the island?” he asked.
“I am a married man,” he answered. “Certainly you know I cannot take her with me.”
“And the carpenter?” the captain asked. “You did not run to tell him of my arrival to rescue you. Why is that?”
“The carpenter is unworthy to receive God’s blessings,” the businessman said. “None of his prayers have been answered. And besides that, my blessings are mine alone. I am the one who prayed for them. Mine were the ones God answered. His prayers all went unanswered. He deserves nothing.”
The captain ordered the helmsman to bring the boat to a stop...
“You are mistaken!” the captain said, rebuking the businessman. “The carpenter had but one prayer, which I know for a fact God answered for it was God who sent me here to rescue you. If not for his one and only prayer, you would not have received any of God’s blessings.”
“Is that a fact?” the businessman demanded, “So tell me...what was it that the carpenter prayed for such that I should owe him anything at all?”
The captain’s answer was short...
“He prayed for your rescue,” the captain answered. “You see, he is very ill. Before your boat sank, he was returning to his homeland to live out his final days among his loved ones. But sometimes life does not go as we planned. He had no expectations of leaving the island alive but knew that God would answer his prayers to rescue you. And here I am rescuing you. So as you see, the carpenter was more than worthy of God’s blessings. You should be the one questioning your own worthiness.“