Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"I had a dismal prospect of my condition, for as I was not cast away upon that island without being driven, as is said, by a violent storm quite out of the course of our intended voyage, and a great way, viz. some hundreds of leagues out of the ordinary course of the trade of mankind, I had great reason to consider it as a determination of heaven, that in this desolate place, and in this desolate manner I should end my life; the tears would run plentifully down my face when I made these reflections, and sometimes I would expostulate with my self, why providence should thus compleatly ruine its creatures, and render them so absolutely miserable, so without help abandon'd, so entirely depress'd, that it could hardly be rational to be thankful for such a life."
I find that Mr. Defoe's portrayal of someone lonely and in despair is very realistic. Robinson infers from his situation that he was driven to this island by God himself as some sort of punishment. He accuses God as to why He would "ruin" someone in such a manner. Miserable, abandoned, depressed Robinson lashes out at God for putting him in such a predicament.
Isn't that just like us? Don't we blame God for situations that we have caused? When things are going well we take the credit, but when things are not so good we quickly blame God, not ourselves for where we are. Ever been miserable? Ever felt abandoned? Ever been depressed? Who do we blame for our state? Typically others and often God. And if we are honest we can all admit that we have been "deserted" in our lives. And if we have then surely others have as well. Does God steer our ship into destruction leaving us wrecked? Or do we make the decisions that place us in despair then simply accuse God? Honestly we live in a world full of misery, abandonment and depression. Learning how to cope with these situations is a part of making our way through this life. Helping others as they traverse this life is part of our Christian life.
May we know with certainty that there is a God and He is able and willing to help us and sustain us and guide us through this life even if we accuse Him of our despair.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The first chapter of Robinson Crusoe entitled "Robinson's Family—His Elopement from His Parents" begins with a dialog between Robinson and his father. Here Robinson's father tries to talk him out of 'going to sea' and leaving the family. He reasons that there are those in the world who have gone to sea and attained great fortunes and those who have gone to sea and become men of desperate fortunes and that the position in life where you can be the most satisfied is on neither extreme, but somewhere in the middle. Eventually and against his father's wishes Robinson left home for a life at sea. The decision to leave was one that he would never be able to get back and one often lamented throughout his life.
Chapter two entitled "First Adventures at Sea—Experience of a Maritime Life— Voyage to Guinea" describes Robinson's first adventure at sea which was not a good one.
"Never any young aventurer's misfortunes, I believe, began sooner, or continued longer than mine. the ship was no sooner gotten out of the humber, but the wind began to blow, and the winds' to rise in a most frightful manner; and as I had never been at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body, and terrify'd in my mind: I began now seriously to reflect upon what I had done, and how justly I was overtaken by the judgment of heaven for my wicked leaving my father's house, and abandoning my duty; all the good counsel of my parents, my father's tears and my mother's entreaties came now fresh into my mind, and my conscience, which was not yet come to the pitch of hardness to which it has been since, reproach'd me with the contempt of advice, and the breach of my duty to god and my father."
Robinson found himself in a life and death situation where he vowed that if he could be saved from this predicament he would go directly back to his home and live there the rest of his days. Unfortunately this was not to be, for after another storm and a sunken ship Robinson has this discourse with himself.
"As to going home, shame opposed the best motions that offered to my thoughts; and it immediately occurr'd to me how I should be laugh'd at among the neighbours, and should be asham'd to see, not my father and mother only, but even every body else; from whence I have since often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in such cases, viz. That they are not asham'd to sin, and yet are asham'd to repent; not asham'd of the action for which they ought justly to be esteem'd fools, but are asham'd of the returning, which only can make them be esteem'd wise men."
And here is the lesson that is pulled from the first part of this book and so eloquently spoken by Daniel Defoe. Many times we are not ashamed to sin, but are ashamed to repent. We are not ashamed of the actions that are foolish, but are ashamed to admit that we have made a mistake. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." The creator of the universe who knows us better than we know ourselves is willing to forgive if we will admit our faults, yet we let pride keep us from repenting and changing our lives.
May we see that God loves us and is willing to forgive, if we are willing to repent.