Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Lessons from Fridtjof Nansen

I read an interesting article today, and it gave me an insight I wanted to share with you.  But by the time I finished the article, I had another insight, so today you get your choice of insights!

"God's will ~ 
His good, pleasing, and perfect will"
Romans 12:2

In 1893 a Norwegian explorer named Fridtjof Nansen decided he would try something that had never been tried before.  He had a hunch that a ship could ride the current, over the Arctic, from Vardo, Norway, to the North Pole.   But the ship could not float on that current, per se.  Nansen would build a boat, and sail it until the ice prevented them from sailing anymore.  Then they would ride along, with and on, and in, the ice.  They would simply, go with the floe.  {Okay, I just can't tell you how much I enjoyed that line.  Please, take a moment here to laugh your head off, or to look up "floe", whichever you need.}

The boat was called the Fram ~ Norwegian for "forward" ~ and it was built strong enough to withstand the three years it would spend seized by the Arctic ice.   It was reinforced with strong beams, and insulated with, among other things, reindeer hair.   They had provisions enough for five years, music to listen to, and a windmill to power electric lights for those long, dark nights (and days).  They had books to read, and each other for company.

The men of the Fram 
So the first lesson I saw, was about going with the flow.  God has a plan for your life.  You have free will of course, but if you have given your life to Him, then your goal is His goal.   You can fight it, of course, but a ship trying to sail against the ice is going to be crushed by it.  Or you can let Him guide.  He has given you what those explorers had: The Word, the Bread of Life, worship, light, and fellowship.  Don't try so hard to get where you want to go.  Get where He wants you to go.

"Let perseverance finish its work"
James 1:4

Unfortunately, the article went on to say, Nansen realized that his plan wasn't going to work.  The Fram would not reach the North Pole.  So Nansen and a companion, Hjalmar Johansen, left the ship, to try to make it to the North Pole on foot.  They weren't able to, but they went farther north than anyone had ever come.  But they turned around when they realized they weren't going to make it to the Pole.  They decided it would be foolish to risk their lives trying, and chose instead, life.  And then they spent months skiing and skating and kayaking and sliding and sledding their way south.  It was brutal.  Cold.  Starving.  But they were determined to make it through alive.  And they did.  For perspective, in 2007 two Norwegian men re-created the journey.  They had advantages, like navigation and communication equipment, that had not been available to Nansen.  But even so, it was brutal.  Said one of the men, about Nansen and Johansen, "I'm surprised they didn't just shoot themselves.  The only reason they survived, was that they refused to give up."
Fridtjof Nansen ~ Doesn't look like the kind to give up, does he?
Are you that kind of person?  Do you refuse to give up?  I'm not sure there's anything more inspiring than someone who refuses to give up.   Like David, even when he was staring at a 9+ foot tall Goliath.  Like Paul, punished in myriad ways as he persisted in sharing the gospel.  Like Jesus, in the Garden, wondering if there was any other way.

God's strength is made perfect in our weakness.  But if that's going to help us, we can't give up.  Jesus' healing of the lame man would have been useless if the man had refused to get up and walk.   Nansen and Johansen's journey became harder than they could have imagined.  Certainly, harder than your journey or my journey.  When they ran into a difficulty, they took that turn, and gave it all they had.  And then the next day, they did it again.  This is what Jesus asks of us.  When difficult is followed by difficult, do not give up.

~ "The joy of the Lord is your strength" ~
Nehemiah 8:10

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