Some thought the attempt was crazy from the start. Others admired the courage and determination even though it ended prematurely.
Her name is Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old who tried to become the youngest girl to sail solo around the globe. Her brother Zac had been successful at age 17 in the same journey not long ago. His record as the youngest male to succeed at the feat was soon broken by another younger sailor.
The Thousand Oaks, California resident was raised on the water and sailing for her was as natural for her as breathing. But even her great sailing skill was not enough once her 40-foot yacht , Wild Eyes, was met by fierce 30-foot waves that crippled the boat and forced her to send for help. It took two full days, after sending out distress signals, until a French fishing vessel rescued her more than 2,000 miles from the western Australia coast. The vessel has since been abandoned and sunk in the Southern Ocean.
As far as what actually ended her dream and destroyed her boat, Sunderland wrote on her blog, “Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best. The long and the short of it is, well, one long wave, and one short mast."
During the few tense days, members of the Sunderlands’ church in Simi Valley held a late-night prayer meeting for Abby, At the start of the service Pastor Joe Schimmel said, "We just know that Abby is in God’s hands and nobody can snatch her from His hands." An hour later that they got a text message saying that Abby was all right,
Before the voyage, her father Laurence told the Los Angeles Times that he believed that the Lord was in control of everything on Abby’s journey. He declared, "We are born-again Christians, and we don't make any decision just based on feeling or even on sound knowledge. We also pray about it. The conviction of prayer and the answer to prayer has led to where we are with Abigail's campaign. We have our dreams and aspirations but we need to know that the Lord is in control of them.” Her mom stated, “Sometimes I wake up during the night and I think about what could happen and think of her out there alone on the ocean,” she said. “I start to get nervous. But I believe that God controls the wind and the waves and whatever comes to her.”
The debate over whether or not it is irresponsible for a parent to allow a minor child to take on an activity so obviously dangerous has heated up again after Abby’s attempt and subsequent rescue. Some even feel her parents should be legally charged with child endangerment. Others admire them greatly. And some perhaps feel a little of both.
But what is not up for debate is the vivid and valid faith of this unique family. Sailing is their obvious love but not their life. Their passion for the water seems fully intertwined with their life in and through Jesus Christ. It is not that they do careless and death-defying things just because they are secure about their eternal destiny – which they are. (I John 5:13) But what is most impressive is their daily trust in God’s will along with His guiding and protective hand.
Many Christians know that heaven awaits them but that never seems to alter or upgrade their daily lives. They have their spiritual life insurance policy with the shed blood of Christ having paid the eternal and priceless premium. But that is pretty much where the evidence and influence of their faith ends. Their lives reflect only what they were before salvation with perhaps some minor improvements here and there. The will and work of God just never seems to become the priority it obviously is more than worthy of. (Romans 12:1-2)
But, regardless of one’s view on a 16-year-old girl circumnavigating the globe alone at sea, it is refreshing and inspiring to hear the solid consistent testimony of believers who live their faith to the fullest and take the truth of Matthew 6: 33 as their constant guide.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”