USA – Have we done our best, May 26, 2020

The scene was Lake Michigan, back of the campus of Northwestern University. The placid surface of the lake had been beaten into a frenzy by a raging storm. Out yonder the vessel had been unable to steer clear of the rocks and had sunk. Some two hundred were fighting against the wild waves. In lifeboats, on broken spars, in the icy water, men, women and children fought for life. Two brothers stood side by side. One, a valiant swimmer, said, “I must go.”

Others warned against the dangers, the ice of the November water, the sweeping storm. But heedlessly he went. He rescued ten. The chill of the ice froze his blood. But while friends were rubbing his limbs, a woman’s voice carried the lost scream over the waves, “Help”!

The swimmer could not check his dauntless courage. He plunged in once more. Back and back again he went to the waters to save until fifteen had been rescued. He finally fell as dead on the sands; but when strength came to sit up, he saw a mother fighting to keep her child from drowning.

He demanded that a rope be tied to him, and he swam out, possibly to his own death. When the child and mother had been seized, consciousness lost its grip. But with a death hold, they were drawn in.

For two days the swimmer, valiant as he was, and courageous as had been his daring feats, lay in a stupor, calling out, “Did I do my best?” When assured that he had done even the heroically impossible, he would call for friends, and ask, “Did I do my best?”

There’s a wilder storm sweeping the ocean of life than the one that clutched Lake Michigan on that November morning. Boats and vessels are going down around us at every heartbeat. On broken spars, screaming for help, in the battle against the waves of temptation, the storms of pleasure, the tempests of hell, they are calling, brother, for you and me. When we lie down in the arms of the night of time to awake on the other shore of blissful rest, can we then be assured that we have done our best?

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