Psalm 139:9–10 (ESV) “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
What a comforting thought for the child of God. No matter where we go, the presence of the Lord is with us. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” In that strength women and men have dared untold dangers to spread the gospel to earth’s uttermost places.
Sir John Franklin, who lost his life looking for the Northwest Passage, found it so. He wanted to blaze a trail through the snow-clad polar regions to the Pacific. In 1845 he led one of the best-equipped expeditions ever to enter the Arctic. None of the team ever came back. Years later Sir Francis McClintock discovered what remained of the expedition, including a collection of books and bones. Among the books was Franklin’s copy of John Todd’s Students’ Manual, turned down at a particular page as though the dead explorer’s finger were pointing to the place. On that turned-down page, almost the last page in the book, is to be found this dialogue:
“Are you not afraid to die?”
“No? Why, does the uncertainty of another state give you no concern?”
“Because God has said to me: Fear not; when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.…”
That was it. In the frozen north Sir John Franklin knew the abiding presence of God. A monument was erected to the memory of this navigator of the north. Lord Tennyson wrote its inscription:
The White North has thy bones,
And thou, Heroic Sailor Soul
Art passing on thy happier voyage now
Toward no earthly Pole.
The word David used for hold is of interest—“Even there Thy right hand shall hold me.” It literally means “to snatch.” Jonah discovered that. Away he went, fleeing toward the west, hoping he had left God behind. We can picture him sound asleep in the bottom of the boat. But now comes the wind at God’s bidding and that little ship is picked up and hurled like a piece of driftwood on the angry waves. God is about to snatch Jonah from his bed and return him, by way of a fish’s belly, to the coast from which he fled.[i]