“Hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Josh 22:5 NIV)
“Serve him and hold fast to him.” (Deut 13:4 NIV)
The HCMS Skeena, a Canadian destroyer commissioned on June 10, 1931, was a reliable warship that did its job well. It fought in the Battle of the Atlantic, escorted 88 convoys, defended the Allied landings in France, and hunted numerous German U-boats. It was renowned for its bravery.
But like anyone else, it also had to face heavy storms, and the one of October 24, 1944 was the most memorable of all. The destroyer had sought shelter in the sound between the Icelandic islands of Engey and Videy, where it laid anchor. Unbeknownst to them, the destroyer was dragging its anchor and it was too late to do anything when it ran aground in an inlet close to the island of Videy.
The order was immediately given to put out the lifeboats and abandon ship, and fifteen soldiers were already in the water when the intensity of the storm caused the order to be revoked. A few of these fifteen managed to reach land at Videy, but most of them were dragged across the fjord to Mogilsa, where they were found drenched in oil the next day. Many of them were dead, and the few survivors were in very poor condition.
The remaining crew of 198 stayed aboard the destroyer. They were unsure of their fate, as the storm was creating 50 foot waves (15 meters).
Icelandic Captain Einar Sigardsson was put in charge of rescue operations. Amidst the chaos of the storm, he managed to land on Videy. He then struggled across the island on foot to the spot nearest where the Skeena had ran aground. A lifeline was fired across to the vessel, and Einar stood waist-deep in the icy water as all 198 of the sailors were brought safely ashore. Had the other fifteen sailors remained on board, they would have been saved as well.
In this life we will face many chaotic storms, but as long as we hold on unto our lifeline, we will remain “firm and secure”. It’s when we wander away and try to save ourselves through our own efforts that we tend to drown amidst our adversities.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” (Heb 6:19-20 NIV)
Will you hold on unto this lifeline as well?
(To access the entire “Holding On” devotional series, please click here.)