As you know, I’m cruising my way through some classics this time. I figure that it makes sense to read through some literature that paved the way for a myriad of other books.
My first selection, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, was a spectacular way to start the challenge. Knowing nothing other than it was a story about a shipwrecked sailor on a deserted island, I was ready for the story to take me in any direction it would choose. I anticipated an adventure story, and I wasn’t disappointed, only the adventure played out much differently than I expected. The adventure, for the most part, was the turbulent ride that Crusoe took place within his heart and mind. His biggest battles (other than physical survival) were with his mastering unsatisfactory lifestyle and his recognition of God’s supremacy in the world and His direct guidance in Crusoe’s life.
The preliminary journey began when Crusoe rejected the advice of his father to accept the happiness of the middle class life to which he was born. Against the wishes of his family, he “escaped his fate” by taking to the seas to find treasures which would bring him adventure and wealth. However, “fate” had other treasures to bestow upon him.
During his freshman turbulent escapades on the high seas, Crusoe was captured and enslaved by a Moor for several years. After his escape, he found unexpected kindness from a Portuguese captain on a rescue ship, which bore him to Brazil.
His life on Brazil was successful; Crusoe, through hard work and unacknowledged blessings, was able to build a financially successful sugar cane plantation. Seeing that he was back to middle class, but with much more work than what he could have had if he had stayed with his father, Crusoe set out to obtain slaves from Africa. Having such easy and inexpensive laborers would catapult him from middle class to upper crust, at least in his mind.
During this expedition, Crusoe was marooned on a deserted island with only a few of the ship’s supplies and his wit to aid him in survival. It was only after Crusoe discovered God via creation, ample supply of provisions and daily reading of God’s word (one of the recoveries that he was able to make from the ruined ship) that he was able to recognize God’s hand in his life and His wisdom of God bringing Crusoe to destitution and solitude; Crusoe fully praised God for such drastic measures taken – he knew that he would not have seen God any other way.
As Crusoe literally recreated a primitive middle-class way of life that life for himself on his island, he learned to value such a existence. His heart finally understood the wisdom of his father and family and the qualities of being content with the life that God gives, especially when the life is bountiful in comparison with real want.
Crusoe is also a story about the ability of a man to master his surroundings through hard work, patience, and Christianity. The combination of these three supports allowed him to escape captivity in Africa, overcome the deadly obstacles on the island, and finally leave the island itself. His physical skills and combat ingenuity are significantly less important to his journey than the message of trust in God and persistence in the face of adversity and despair that the decades spent on the island convey.
I highly recommend this book to the reading community. Though it is comprehendible to older children and adult readers, I have a feeling that I really understood the essence of the book more an individual who has learned to live life depending on God in all times, good or bad. I empathized with Crusoe’s wavering faith and rejoiced in his continual maturing as an individual trying to live a life in Christ. If a man on a deserted island can thrive under bleak circumstances, then surely I can do the same with the bountiful blessings that God gives to me daily.
It’s all about perspective. Sometimes I need to be reminded that my life is good in all ways, even when foolishly think it’s not. I don’t want to be put on my own island again to remember that God is God and He is good.