Although He Died Believing His Mission Had Failed, His Prayer Was More Than Answered.
THE LESSON—That "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
The life of Christopher Columbus contains much to inspire the present-day youth. In studying it, however, one should always take into account the prevailing superstitions, darkened by the bigotry of the times. But above and beyond all this shone the steadfast belief of Columbus that his every act was directed by God. The talk is suited to all ages, for the mere mention of the name of Columbus will excite the interest of young and old.
"Every one of us knows that Columbus discovered America, but unless we have studied the life of this wonderful man we do not know of the great difficulties and hardships he endured before he was able to do it. We know that Ferdinand and Isabella, rulers of Spain, furnished him with the ships with which he came to the new land; but we should also know that for years and years he worked and struggled through sickening discouragement until he finally succeeded in procuring the support of the Spanish monarchs. We know that he found a great continent, and that his name is honored above all others of his time; but we should also know that he himself never knew that he was the discoverer of a new land, and that he died a broken-hearted, ridiculed man whose mission had failed miserably.
"And what was that mission? What was Columbus trying to do when he discovered America? He was simply trying to find a short way to reach India. Ferdinand and Isabella provided him with the ships only with the hope that he would find rich deposits of gold for them in some strange land. Both missions failed! But God was directing the life of Columbus. He put into his heart the firm belief that the world is round, and made him anxious to prove his theory to be true. Finally, down through years of hardship and discouragement, God brought Columbus to the age of maturity and wisdom, fully equipped for the great task which was before him. Then the Spanish monarchs provided the required vessels for the voyage. Here we have one of these quaint caravels, the Santa Maria. [Draw Fig. 50 complete, or, on account of the detail, prepare it in advance.] There were two other ships, the Pinta and the Nina. What curious looking boats they were! They left the coast of Spain on Friday, August 3, 1492. Where were they going? Nobody knew. But there was one man in that company who, deep in his heart, believed that God was directing the course of those three little caravels across the vast ocean. Washington Irving, in his Life of Columbus, says, 'He was a devoutly pious man. Religion mingled with the whole course of his thoughts, and shone forth in his most private and unstudied writings. Whenever he made a great discovery, he celebrated it by solemn thanks to God. The voice of prayer and melody of praise rose from his ships when they first beheld the new world, and his first action on landing was to prostrate himself on the earth and offer thanksgiving.'
"Such a man was Christopher Columbus—a man of faith and prayer; He had prayed that God would direct him in the discovery of a new route to India. God answered that prayer in a richer, greater measure than Columbus ever knew, for to him whose life had been one of devotion and communion with God, was given a name above all other names written in the world's list of navigators and discoverers! He prayed for a great blessing. God gave him a greater one. As the Santa Maria entered the harbor of the little island of San Salvador and the crews of the three vessels, numbering 120 in all, knelt and thanked God for His great mercies, Columbus believed he had reached a distant coast of India. [Draw the ground and trees, Fig. 51.] But, in truth, it was infinitely more than that—he had found A NEW WORLD! [Add "A New World," completing Fig. 51.] Such was the blessing which God gave to Christopher Columbus. Such is the blessing he will give to all who trust Him and love Him. Always does the true Christian receive more than that for which he asks, for the human mind cannot know the thoughts of God or of His love for those who give their lives wholly into His keeping."
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