June 1, 2009 Message of the Week
By Bob Fuhrman
“Lost at Sea”
On October 17, 1942 Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I Ace, and his crew took off in a Boeing B-17 from Hickam Field in Hawaii. They were bound for Canton Island 1800 miles to the southwest in the Phoenix Islands. I personally have flown this route to Canton Island when I was a pilot on the Lockheed C-141 when I was a young man in my mid-twenties. The account of this true story can be read in Captain Eddie Rickenbacker’s autobiography in the chapter “Lost at Sea” pages 337 through 383. Prentice-Hall c. 1967 by Edward V. Rickenbacker. Their B-17 never made Canton Island, they ditched at sea and were lost for twenty-four days-page 371.
There is so much to tell about this story but the part of greatest importance is when on the sixth day of being adrift at sea Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew had eaten their last orange-page 358. The survival supplies had gone down with the aircraft. These men, lost at sea, were very alone without food and water, totally dependent. A member of his crew had a small New Testament with him -page 358. Captain Eddie suggested to the men that they pull their life rafts together and have a prayer meeting. Some of the men were religious and some were not but Captain Eddie suggested that they all participate. Each man read a bible passage. One man found Matthew 6:31-34 here noted from the New American Standard Bible.
“Do not be anxious then, saying, “What shall we eat?”or “What shall we drink?” or “With what shall we clothe ourselves?” For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
“There were some cynics and unbelievers among us. But not after the eighth day. For it was on that day that a small miracle occurred.” (Quote from page 360) After their prayer meeting for deliverance and a hymn of praise a sea gull landed upon Eddie Rickenbacker’s hat. Rickenbacker was able to capture this gull in the grip of his hand. These men had to endure another sixteen days adrift at sea, one of their number did not survive, before they were rescued from their tribulation on the twenty-fourth day.
This is a wonderful story of survival and the Eddie Rickenbacker story is important to me because I read this autobiography while I was on active duty in the United States Air Force. When I was released from active duty I was hired by Eastern Airlines as a pilot and Eddie Rickenbacker had been the president of Eastern during the time of his ordeal and for many years thereafter. When he returned to Eastern Airlines he had bibles placed on the Eastern aircraft. When I was hired in 1973 it was my preflight responsibility to check that the bible was in its proper place stowed in the emergency equipment overhead bin. God was beginning to teach me the value of His reality through the people of Eastern Airlines. All of the Eastern employees knew the truth of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and the story of God’s deliverance.
If you are having hard times these days don’t ever give up. Ask God, believe in Him through your personal faith, and keep your feet to your prayers. I know this is true in my life for me and my family. Just hold on to the rudder of Jesus and He will be your guidance in the storms of life.