Friday, April 07, 2006

Turbulent Journey - Ch. 5

Around sunset, Jamaal had gotten some of the equipment working again. He could turn most of the lights on and the yacht’s engine was working fairly well under the circumstances. Unfortunately, the compass was riddled with bullets, so he was still at a loss for direction.

Getting an idea, Jamaal went to the large viewing window ahead and looked up in the sky for the telltale constellations. He knew that if he could just find the North Star, he’d be able to steer them back towards the coastline.

At first glance, he didn’t see any stars. His hopes instantly drooped with disappointment, but his spirit stayed strong. I wished I’d gotten the engine working sooner, then I could have just followed the setting sun, Jamaal mused just as Angel called out him.

Finding her standing at the bottom of the stairs near the westward entrance, afraid to come up, Jamaal went down a few of the stairs and extended his hand towards her in reassurance. “There’s no one up here anymore but me.”

Believing him, Angel took his hand and slowly made her way up the stairs. She stopped short in the doorway, still too anxious to enter all the way in. “I finished taking inventory of the galley,” she said, using the boating term for the word ‘kitchen’ that Jamaal had uttered earlier. She was obviously a fast learner. “There were lots of canned goods and cases of unopened bottled water, so I included those, too.”

Angel held up a hastily scribbled on yellow sheet of paper. As the list went on, the handwriting improved which was a clear indication of the emotional process she’d gone through to complete it. Now her bronze face looked sedate as if she’d finally begun to accept her fate.

But the most disturbing thing about all that was the fact that Angel didn’t know what her fate was. She didn’t know if God wanted her to live or die. Although one thing was certain - she was still alive at this moment in time. She still had now and Angel suddenly became very determined to make the most of it.

“Thanks, Angel. The engines are working now and there’s still plenty of fuel, so hopefully we’ll be able to make it to land soon.” Jamaal looked upwards again, still trying to search the increasingly dark sky for direction. “The compass is broken, so we’ll have to find our way the old fashioned way - through God and the stars He’s given us.”

Angel looked upward, trying to search the sky, too, hoping that it had changed from what she’d seen a little while ago. One look into the starless sky caused her heart to droop with discouragement. Nothing had changed. Now she was faced with telling Jamaal what else she’d seen.

“Jamaal, when I was outside, I noticed that the air was very still. And the sea looked dull and gloomy, like it was sulking or something,” Angel said in a shaky voice, trying to stay as calm as she could.

That was not good news. Jamaal immediately went out on deck for a better look. The sky was dark and cloudy and no stars were showing. Not even a glimmer could be seen. He could even smell rain in the air. This was not good news at all.

Almost as if waiting to display its power, the angry sky suddenly opened up and started to pour down torrential-like rain upon them. A strong wind came along to visit them as well, making it impossible to see. Jamaal and Angel quickly ran back inside to escape the heavy downpour.

In the small control room, Jamaal placed himself at the helm as he tried to remember some of the things his father had taught him. It had been six years since he’d gone sailing. More years than that since he’d even allowed himself to think about sailing.

The way his strict, disciplinary father had drilled him unmercifully as a kid, had made Jamaal go in the opposite direction as an adult. He’d wanted nothing to do with boats for years. As a matter of fact, this weekend cruise was inspired by his psychologist of a mother.

Marla Norris had encouraged her son to take this trip to resolve some of the residue issues he had concerning his father. She felt that her son should finally bury the past, the same way she’d buried her husband six years ago – with forgiveness and with no regrets.

Jamaal struggled to remember his father’s advice as he fought to gain control of the now rocking ship. At the helm he could almost hear his father’s stern voice yelling, “Keep the wheel straight, son! Port is left, starboard is right!”

Sweat beaded on Jamaal’s upper lip as his emotions raged within him. He felt like a hurting child again. If only he could block out Jimmie Norris’ severe tone and, at the same time, maintain his focus on remembering the instructions he’d been given.

Feeling almost completely overwhelmed, Jamaal suddenly shouted to the only truly loving father he’d ever known. “Father God, please help me!”

Also overwhelmed by the spiraling downward turn of events, Angel scrambled over to a corner. She sat with her knees pulled tightly to her chest. She was so afraid. She was also in awe of the strong man before her.

Despite his initial outburst, Jamaal seemed to have nerves of steel as he sought to maneuver the yacht in the raging storm. First, it was man and machine against nature. Then it became a man relying on his God to either calm nature down or guide him safely through it.

Then for the next few hours, Jamaal prayed aloud, and not always in English either, as he skillfully worked with the controls that were still operational. The storm seemed to wage war with the small ship all night. By midnight Angel, too, had joined Jamaal in vocalized prayer. She’d also rededicated her life to Christ. Why wouldn’t she? She knew just as well as Jamaal that only God could help them now. Their own strength was not enough to make it through this horrific ordeal. They both needed Someone greater than them. They both needed a Savior.

***

Around daybreak on Sunday the rain slowed and there was considerably more visibility. Because the wind was still very strong, Jamaal lowered the top sail and let the ship run before the gale.

Angel had long since abandoned her corner of fear and had joined the strong, resilient man at the helm. During the long stormy night, she’d drawn strength from their prayers and from the fact that God and Jamaal had not given up on them yet. They were still alive after all that had occurred so far.

Because they were still alive, Angel decided that as long as she had breath in her body, she would praise God. She would also do whatever she could to help this strong man beside her, Jamaal - her wonderful survival companion. In fact, Angel even ventured back to the galley to get a can of beans and some bottled water. She spoon fed him the beans and gave him the water at different intervals as he continued to guide the boat.

Now that the sun was up, Jamaal knew exactly where east was, so he steered the yacht to the west in hopes of reaching land. More hopefully, he wanted to reach American soil. At noon, the weary man rubbed his tired eyes and stared straight ahead. He strained to see something off in the distance. He blinked and rubbed his eyes again. It looked like land up ahead on the boat’s right.

“Is that land I see?” Jamaal asked the woman beside him.

Angel began to jump up and down excitedly. “Yes! I see it, too! Can we make it?” Oh God, I pray we can make it. Please let us make it, she prayed with renewed hope.

Jamaal turned the yacht to the right and headed towards land. All the while he prayed, Lord, please help us get there.

Soon they were approaching the island’s narrow bay. The closer they got to the entrance, the more they realized just how narrow it was and that the surrounding shores were full of jagged rocks. If they were going to get on this island, it had to be through that narrow strip. Trying to hold onto every thread of hope he had left, Jamaal positioned the boat directly towards the middle of the tight entrance.

Suddenly, the wind increased as they grew nearer to land. The rain began another angry downpour. Wind and rain both seemed motivated by a sinister force.

Determined not to be moved, literally and figuratively, by the wind of adversity coming against them now, Jamaal persevered towards that opening. He turned the engines to full speed, praying that they wouldn’t give out on them from his hasty wiring job.

Angel thought she would pass out from holding her breath as they seemed to race against the wind. Then when Jamaal swerved to avoid a sandbar, she instantly thought of several passages she’d been taught as a child in Sunday school. She began to pray aloud.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” Angel’s voice got even louder as she endeavored to be heard above the wind and noisy engines. Jamaal’s ears desperately needed to hear these words. Hers did, too, because their eyes were definitely declaring how hopeless the situation looked and their morale was dropping rapidly because of it.

“God, You are with us, be a very present help to us in this time of trouble,” Angel said, almost shouting now in her prayer.

Suddenly, they were at the entrance. Almost miraculously the ship had traveled the extra distance it needed to reach the small opening. With the sound of crushing metal against hard rock, Jamaal wedged the yacht through the narrow strip. Then he drove the luxury boat right upon the shore.

After turning the engines off, he slumped to the floor on his knees and thanked God for helping them get this far. Jamaal could only hope that the distance they’d traveled had brought them that much closer to home.

With muscles tired from over ten hours of physical toil, a mind emotionally ravaged from having to remember long forgotten boating techniques, and having to fight off the painful memories associated with them, Jamaal could do no more. He was spent.

Angel immediately sat on the floor with him. Then not really knowing what to say or what else to do, she put her arms around Jamaal and just hugged him tight. Together they cried open tears of relief while the storm continued to rage outside. Angel and Jamaal stayed that way until well after sunset.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

2 comments:

kris said...

hey, i'm back. anyway, turbulent Journey is comming along great. did Angel really just get saved, or has she been in a God-based home since she was a child?

were Jamaal and his mother abused by the father?

Suprina said...

Welcome back, Kris. We missed you.

Angel had actually gotten saved years ago, but she had fallen away. Everything that happened on the boat made her run back to God's arms. I think I mentioned that she'd rededicated her life in this chapter. Following chapters will reveal more of her background.

Though Jamaal and his mother suffered no physical abuse at his father's hands, they did have to deal with an unyielding man in the house.

Jimmie Norris' methods for raising his son were excessive at times, but they did originate from a pure place in his heart. In short, he was trying to make his son hard enough to live in and deal with a cold, hard world.

I hope that answered your questions.