Saved at Sea

by | May 21, 2006 | Priorities

A wealthy family decided to rent a yacht for their upcoming vacation. The father had no experience in sailing, but as everything in life seemed to come easy to him, he boasted that this too should be no problem.

The family loaded everything they needed for their world-wide cruise; clothes for every occasion, make-up, fancy jewelry and the finest perfumes, since, one never knows what kings, queens or heads of state may greet them at each port.

Living in such opulence was nothing new to the Van Dyke family. Both parents were raised with the proverbial silver spoons in their mouths; attended to by nannies, butlers and grounds-keepers, and they raised their two children in the same lap of luxury.

What should have been a pleasure cruise began to slowly turn in to a nightmare after only a few days at sea. The radio died, but always expecting the best, Mr. Van Dyke ignored the loss of this necessary communication which would have also allowed him to hear of the impending storm they were approaching. Before long, the white yacht was being rocked by massive waves, and pummeled by bullets of rain.

“Not to worry,” said Mr. Van Dyke calmly. “Let’s just tie down our valuables. We wouldn’t want to lose anything important!”

Mrs. Van Dyke took a silk sash from her bathrobe, wrapped it around her large ivory jewelry box, then tied the box to the post of her bed hoping no ring, necklace or bangle would shift out of place. The Van Dyke children, Martha and Ben, gathered up all their toys and electronic game equipment, and placed them in a wooden chest. “Wouldn’t want anything to happen to my Xbox!” Exclaimed ten-year-old Ben.

Just as Mr. Van Dyke was pondering what valuable he should be most concerned with, a towering wall of water smacked their vessel so hard, the yacht fell to its side. Immediately, the ship began taking on water, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. “We need to get off the boat! It’s going to sink!” Yelled Mr. Van Dyke. In the blink of an eye another massive wave came and washed the entire family into the dark waters of the raging sea. As they fought to stay afloat, Mr. And Mrs. Van Dyke frantically tried to get to Martha and Ben, who not only did not know how to swim, but who also were not wearing life-jackets.

Terror gripped the entire family. For the first time in his life, Mr. Van Dyke, the typically over-confident and self-centered business executive, was now helpless and unsure what next to do. As his children’s small bodies slipped under the turbulent water, Mr. Van Dyke cried out a blood-curdling scream of, “Dear God! Please!”

Seeing her children being swallowed up by the waves, Mrs. Van Dyke dove under the water where her little ones were, and pushed them back to the surface. Suddenly, Mr. Van Dyke noticed something floating; a plank of wood from the children’s toy box. “Grab tight to the plank!” He shouted. “Don’t let go!”

While the sea began slowly to calm, all that remained of their yacht was the tip which had yet to be swallowed up. Martha began to cry. “I don’t want to die, Mommy!”

“I don’t want to die either, dear,” replied Mrs. Van Dyke, as every muscle in her body ached from treading water so long. The Van Dykes knew the situation was very grave, and that there was a chance their family would not come out of this alive.

“I would like us to pray,” said Mr. Van Dyke as he too struggled to stay afloat.

“But we have never prayed before, Daddy,” whimpered Ben as his tiny body shivered from the cool waters.

“I know we haven’t, and that was a terrible mistake I made,” said Mr. Van Dyke. “I guess I was so busy with other things I thought were important. Now I can see they really weren’t.”

“What your father is trying to say, dear, is all that is important is you!” Cried out Mrs. Van Dyke as she began to flounder in the sea; her arms beginning to give out.

“Your mother is right. It was a big mistake, and I hope you and God will forgive me,” replied Mr. Van Dyke inadvertently swallowing a gulp of salty sea water. His arms were so weary from treading the thick waters. “Martha and Ben, promise me that no matter what happens, you will not let go of the plank. Also promise me that in your life as you grow older, you will put God first, then family.”

“We will, Dad. We promise,” said Martha and Ben in unison their little knuckles white from holding onto the plank so tightly.

“Then let’s pray,” said Mr. Van Dyke as he lead his family in prayer for the first time.

[Hours later]

“Mr. Van Dyke? Can you hear me yet, Sir?” Whispered the voice of a woman clad in white.

Slowly, his eyes opened, and while confused of his whereabouts, Mr. Van Dyke’s first thought went to his wife and children.

“It’s OK, Sir. Your family is safe and all on dry land here in the Coast Guard hospital,” reassured the nurse. “Your rescuers were able to salvage a few things from the yacht, and here is one of them I thought you might like.”

The nurse held Mrs. Van Dyke’s ivory jewelry box.

Mr. Van Dyke took it in his weak hands, and upon opening it, saw that it was still intact. Looking at the nurse he said, “You know, I paid millions of dollars for the contents of this box.”

Upon closing the lid, he replied, “Give this to the hospital. I don’t need it. I already have everything truly valuable I need.”

Spiritual Application: The above story is purely fictional, yet for many of us, it is reality that a relationship with God is pushed to the back burner of our lives, and like Mr. Van Dyke, replaced with other things which seem important, but really are not. The Van Dykes realized this in time, and thankfully, had a second chance to begin anew, but how many people go to their grave without even considering God and their spiritual welfare?

My dear friends, do not put off ’till tomorrow what you can do today. It is never too late to start anew!

Melanie Schurr


Saved at Sea