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Saturday, May 6, 2017

www.storiesforpreaching.com

The Power of Hope

 

In January 1997 British yachtsman Tony Bullimore was sailing solo deep in the Southern Ocean.  A gale was raging.  The waves, reaching the height of a five story building, rushed on him with a sound like roaring thunder.  As his yacht plummeted down the face of a wave it hit something submerged in the water and turned upside down.

 

Tony, who had been sheltering in the six- by 10-foot cockpit, found it had become his prison.  As giant waves buffeted the boat, water poured in and out a broken window, knee high at one end, waist high at the other.  The air temperature was down to 36 degrees, and it was pitch black – the sun couldn’t penetrate the upturned yacht.

 

Twelve times Bullimore left the cockpit in a vain attempt to release his life raft.  Meeting with no success he took refuge in his little cabin.  Sitting inside the cold inky darkness Bullimore had few rations – some chocolate and a device for making fresh water from salty sea.  His fingers became frostbitten and Bullimore thought that he was going to die.  The odds of being rescued seemed impossibly small.

 

For four long days Tony survived, until late Wednesday night when a RAF plane located him and dropped an electronic probe next to his yacht.  Bullimore could hear the faint pings, and with hope rising in his heart, started tapping on the hull to communicate to whoever was listening that he was alive.  Early the next morning the HMS Adelaide drew alongside, and some sailors were dispatched to bang on the hull.  Tony heard the banging, took a deep breath, and swam out through the wreckage of his yacht to meet them.

 

How did he feel at that moment?  Bullimore says “When I looked over at the Adelaide, I could only get the tremendous ecstasy that I was looking at life; I was actually looking at a picture of what life was about.  It was heaven, absolute heaven.  I really, really never thought I would reach that far.”

 

Reflecting on the experience later Bullimore told reporters, “In these last six days I’m a different person.  I won’t be so rude to people, not that I was, but I’ll be much more of a gentleman and, equally, I’ll listen to people a lot more.  And as a dear old friend of mine, David Matherson, said when he had a heart attack… he said that when he got over it and opened his window in his bedroom and he peered out and smelt the fresh air and all the rest of it, he said: ‘It was like being born all over again; life was great!’  Well that’s how I feel now – like being born all over again.”

 

Scott Huggins explains: “Tony Bullimore learned the power of hope.  It was hope of being rescued that drove him to survive and it was the fulfillment of hope that brought him such joy and a new perspective on life.  In the same way the Gospel promises hope to all of us, and particularly to those of us who find life tough going.  A time will come when the Rescuer will arrive and release the world from the pain and suffering.  And it’s that hope that drives us forward.” *

 

Peter reminded Christians of the hope that they had in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

 

Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again so that we might receive the gift of eternal life, we can have hope beyond this life!  We can rejoice in that hope when we accept His offer on His terms by placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  God will continue to cleanse us from our sins and sustain our hope as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7; Colossians 1:22-23).

 

That hope enables us to endure the storms of life, looking forward to eternal life in heaven – all because of what Jesus did for us.

 

Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and know the hope of eternal life?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

Source: Slightly adapted from an article by Scott Higgins.  Bullimore quotes taken from The Sunday Age, January 1997.  Higgins’ article is found in Stories for Preaching (www.storiesforpreaching.com).

 

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