You Can Count on Me
The Holy Spirit's work of faithfulness
On Dec 5, 1914, Ernest Shackleton embarked on what he called "the last great polar expedition." His goal was to cross Antarctica by dogsled—an uncharted journey of 1,500 miles across the most inhospitable terrain on earth. His crew of 27 was handpicked from a field of 5,000 applicants. The ship that would carry them there was named Endurance. For six weeks they fought their way through frigid seas and ice floes trying to reach the continent, until finally their ship became frozen into the ice pack. There was nothing to do but hunker down for the winter and wait for the spring thaw to release the ship. After ten months in their wooden icebox, spring finally arrived. But instead of releasing the vessel, the shifting ice floes crushed it to pieces.
At this point, Shackleton gathered his men and announced his new mission: to get every man home safely. With the ice pack breaking up, they set up camp on a giant ice floe, hoping the current would carry them toward Paulet Island, where they had provisions stored. Shackleton devoted every waking moment to preserving his men's health, morale, and unity. Day after day he walked from tent to tent, checking on each man. When spirits began to sag, he would order the cook to come up with some hot drink, or call for a talent show.
When it became apparent that the floe was carrying them out to sea, Shackleton ordered the men into three lifeboats they had preserved from the Endurance. After seven harrowing days and nights fighting powerful currents, freezing rain, and massive icebergs, they made it to an uninhabited slab of rock called Elephant Island.
For the first time in 497 days, they set foot on land. But they were far from safe. Elephant Island was far from any shipping ...
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Bryan Wilkerson is pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.