I’ve just finished reading Dove, the autobiographical story, written by Robin Lee Graham who, in 1965 at 16 years old, became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. It took Robin 5 years to complete his voyage which was filled with amazing adventures, beautiful scenery, brushes with death, and long periods drifting on the ocean in which loneliness almost drove him to the depths of despair. Robin married a girl during the trip, and she gave birth to their daughter not long after he completed the journey.
Robin and his girlfriend/wife Patti were typical, free spirited children of the ’60s, holding to no particular faith or morality other than a belief that one should be honest, treat others with due respect, and do no harm to the environment. Patti sailed with Robin only during some shorter jaunts between islands. Otherwise she would meet him at pre-arranged ports along the way where they would typically go exploring to discover the wonders of the local scenery. On the longer legs of the trip Robin was alone (except for the company of various cats he adopted along the way as earlier cats either disappeared or were tragically killed).
In times where the demands of navigation, cooking, repairs, or sailing did not consume his attention Robin spent much time reading classic literature which included Lloyd Douglas’s The Robe, a fictional story about a centurion who won Jesus’ robe in a lottery during his cricifixion, which Robin said “kind of shook me up.” He also bought Bible and the Koran while in New Guinea. He didn’t want anyone to think he was religious so he put the jacket from a detective novel on the Bible to hide it from the eyes of the frequent visitors he had on his boat while in port.
Robin, Patti (who was very pregnant), and Patti’s parents spent 10 amazing days exploring the fascinating life on the Galapagos Islands where “the ghost of Charles Darwin…breathed down our necks.” Robin was very familiar with Darwin’s theory of evolution, but his experiences in these islands had a wonderful “non-Darwinian” effect on him. I will let Robin’s own words tell what happened next:
I was waiting for dinner – Patti was cooking some lobster and I was wondering how to fill out the time. On sudden impulse I took the Bible from the shelf and went up on deck. Page one seemed to be the best place to start. When you read the first chapter of Genesis in the light of a stained-glass window it may mean one thing. When you read it by the light of a Galapagos sunset, it surely means another. Prehistoric turtles were swimming around the boat and pelicans were flying above as I read:
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth…”
Patti called me for dinner just as I had reached verse 26:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them Be fruitful and multiply…”
I went down to the cabin. I patted Patti’s swelling stomach and said “And God saw that it was good.”
Patti gave me a puzzled look. She thought I was talking about the lobsters and said, “What’s got into you?” I produced the Bible from behind my back and told her, “Genesis sounds a lot better than anything old Darwin wrote.”
At the end of the book Robin hints that, after going to a non-denominational church service as guests of another couple, faith in Jesus and the stories in the Bible really began to draw them and make sense. The people they met in church were very genuine and very enthusiastic about life and their walk as Christians. God was revealing Himself to Robin and Patti in unique and exciting ways.
Even though Robin and Patti came to faith in way that may be different than most people, it is not surprising that the magnificance of God’s creation softened their hearts so that the recorded story of the creation could open their eyes. Several places in scripture refer to the witness that the created order brings to men and women who pay attention:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19:1-4 ESV)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
(Romans 1:20 ESV)
Have you allowed God’s ever-present voice to speak to you through the wonders of His created order? The next time you consider the starry heavens, the beauty of a rose, or the precious joy in a baby’s eyes let Him touch your heart as only your Creator can.