Trusting, through the fog
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
"Coast Guard?! Who called the Coast Guard?" my friend asked.
Two friends and I were stuck in the night fog on their small powerboat off the coast of Maine. Their cell phone had rung, and it was the Coast Guard asking if we were in distress. Friends waiting for us on the shore had relayed our predicament to a policeman, who then had called the Coast Guard. My friend at the wheel told the Coast Guard that we weren't in any distress. I wasn't so sure.
We held onto a buoy so we wouldn't drift, and my friends looked at the chart to determine our position. The engine sounded iffy to me - every time we stopped, it took many tries to get it going again. We couldn't see a thing. And worst of all, the compass had broken and just kept spinning endlessly. Our heavy-duty flashlight only brightened the fog. If this wasn't distress, what was? But I'm not much of a boater, and I'd just as soon have postponed our trip to a cabin on a nearby island until the next morning. My friend had grown up navigating these waters, and he assured me we'd make it fine. I trusted him, and his confidence remained steady as we moved through the fog. I figured that he usually relied on a compass in weather like this, and I hoped that his confidence wasn't just a "guy thing" to make us feel better.
We were all quiet, and I remembered this hymn:
Trust the Eternal when the shadows gather,
When joys of daylight seem so like a dream;
God the unchanging pities like a father;
Trust on and wait, the daystar yet shall gleam.
Christian Science Hymnal (No. 359)
"Trust the Eternal" struck me as a directive. I needed to trust our safety to God's care. Meanwhile, I resented my friend's decision to go out in the first place. But I decided that supporting his efforts was much more useful and needed, and resentment wouldn't lead anywhere. Trust and resentment don't mix. So I put my focus on trusting.
But it's not always easy to get there. It takes some letting go. Am I really trusting if I'm still afraid? To agree that God really is all-powerful and that your care is in that divine hand, melts fear and brings strength and courage. I learned later that our friends on shore were praying and also learning to trust. They were comforted by another hymn:
The lambs who wander by the way,
He taketh in His arm....
So cometh He to all who roam,
To lead them safely, surely home.
From time to time, we saw a navigational light blinking in the distance. They identified it on the chart and headed toward it. It was on a small island, and we landed and sat on some rocks. We waited, my friends expecting the fog to lift, and I wondering if there was any place flat enough to spend the night. We didn't have any sleeping gear, but I treasured this solid ground. And if the fog did lift somewhat, couldn't it come back? I needed a deeper trust - a conviction that our safety wasn't confined to this solid ground, as good as it felt. I decided to trust that wherever we would be, we'd be in God's care. This fact began to feel more true to me. It calmed me, and I felt assured that whether we set out again that night or stayed on this island, we couldn't leave God's care.
We broke out some snacks, and the fog slowly began to lift. Faint lights in the distance came into view and gradually grew brighter. Lights shone across the water from the island where we were headed.
My friend quickly and ably navigated to our destination. It remained clear for our crossing. We arrived just after midnight, welcomed by flashlights waving enthusiastically from the shore.
Our trouble didn't come even close to the kinds of dangers faced by people who've been at sea in storms. But it meant a lot to me that it was a happy adventure and didn't strain our friendship. It's good to learn to "trust the Eternal" in any situation, big or small.
Trust in Him
whose love enfolds thee.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)