"In fourteen hundred ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
The familiar elementary school jingle above fixed the date of the journey of Columbus to the New World in my mind for life, but no one at that time told me the real reason for the perseverance and ultimate success of this courageous explorer.
Years later, I discovered what sent Columbus on his important and historic voyage upon reading the following in the New Encyclopedia Britannica: "Columbus discovered America by prophecy rather than astronomy."
What biblical prophecy sent Columbus on his journey?
More than two thousand years before Columbus told King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the world was round, the prophet, Isaiah had written, "It is he who sits above the circle of the earth," Isaiah 40:22.
A devoted man of faith, Columbus concluded from Isaiah's words that the Earth must be round and became convinced that God had chosen him to prove this to the world, writing: "I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart's great desire and he gave me the spirit of intelligence for the task."
In his article "Columbus Did," Tom Flannery of the Carbondale News, Carbondale, Pa., explained that the mission of Columbus began when a ship he was serving aboard was sunk in a battle off Cape St. Vincent and he alone survived by swimming all the way to Portugal with only an oar to help him, eventually coming ashore of all places near one of the world's greatest academies for would-be sailors.
Columbus now believed he had two powerful confirmations of his mission: Scripture and Providence, so he set out to share his beliefs with the world and find a sponsor for his mission.
It wasn't easy.
Relating the story of his selling struggle, this courageous explorer wrote: "All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me."
Thankfully Columbus didn't allow his detractors to deter him from doing what he believed God wanted him to do. After seven years of presenting his case in the royal court, he was commissioned to undertake this dangerous journey on uncharted seas and the world still benefits from the outcome of this journey of faith that ended in his second greatest discovery.
At heart, we're all explorers, longing to break out of the doldrums of life and accomplish something that could make a difference in the lives of others, but where does this journey begin?
Columbus said it began for him when he came to a point in life where he cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy and discovered both. Describing his greatest discovery, he wrote: "I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy his marvelous presence."
That discovery is so earth shaking and life changing for all who make it that any other, regardless of its recognized importance, must take second place.
And that great discovery is available to us all.
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.
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