Columbus Day: The Real Story

Daily Truth:  “Oh send out your light and truth!  Let them lead me… ” Psalm 43:3 a



Columbus Day finds some families on fall break. Other families may be taking advantage of the low prices  at  Columbus Day sales. Many elementary age children are discussing Christopher Columbus at school.

There was Queen Isabella who helped Columbus achieve his goals by providing money.  The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were commissioned to sail Columbus to the New World.  Columbus was born in Italy. These are some facts about Columbus but are children  taught the real facts about Columbus?

There is a wonderful book entitled, “The Light and Glory” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel that provides insight about Columbus Day.   It shares historical accounts from 1492 to 1793 and tells how God’s will was sought and where God’s sovereignty was seen throughout America’s history.

“His name, Christopher, literally means Christ-bearer.  Indeed, he found confirmation of his call almost everywhere he looked.  He would quote in his journal such lines of Scripture as those in Isaiah that meant so much to him.”

“Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar,
The LORD called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name…
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49:1,6″

Marshall’s and Manuel’s research gleaned much insight into the man of Christopher Columbus.  Columbus’s personal journals are quoted.  “‘I prayed to the most merciful Lord concerning my desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for it.  He gave me abundant skill in the mariner’s arts, an adequate understanding of the stars, and of geometry and arithmetic…God has equipped me for this voyage. ‘”

Columbus made many voyages once funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.  After two months and several days while sailing to the New World Columbus agreed to turn back in three days if no sign of land was seen. “At  2:00 a.m., (October 12, 1492) with less than four hours remaining before the dawn of the third and final day, the electrifying cry at last rang out from the Pinta…The lookout had spied what appeared to be a low white cliff shining in the moonlight, and Martin Pinzon confirmed the sighting by firing a cannon as a signal. Land!”

“Columbus was the first to set foot on dry land, carrying the royal standard, with the brothers Pinzon directly behind him, bearing a huge white banner with a green cross and the crowned initials of Ferdinand and Isabella on either side of it.”

“Several of the sailors scooped out a deep hole in the hot sand and firmly planted the eight -foot oak cross Columbus had brought especially for this occasion.  Then the entire company gathered around it and knelt, many with tears in their eyes.  The Admiral christened the island San Salvador-“Holy Savior”-and then bowed their heads as he prayed:  ‘O Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, by Thy holy Word Thou hast created the heaven, and the earth, and the sea; blessed and glorified be Thy Name, and praised be Thy Majesty, which hath deigned to use us, Thy humble servants, that Thy holy Name may be proclaimed in this second part of the earth.'”

Columbus’s good intentions and desire to serve God on future voyages waned as the desire of gold and honor outweighed his earlier passion of serving God first. “The preoccupation with gold, which had subtly insinuated itself into the fabric of Columbus’s first explorations in the New World, was now becoming an obsession.”

On his last voyage Columbus and his crew overcame many obstacles.  “Columbus may have turned away from God, but God did not turn away from Columbus.  By sheer grace God brought him and his remaining crew members safely home to Spain.  But this time there was no royal summons inviting him to court.  Queen Isabella way dying.  It was the end of an era.”

“In the spring of 1506 Columbus’s health began to fail quickly” and Columbus died.

May we follow Psalm 43:3 and follow God’s light and truth.  May we not become consumed with desires that lead us away from God.  May we lead our children in paths of truth.   May we learn from people’s mistakes as well as their good choices as we study from history and the Bible.

There is also a children’s version of “Light and Glory” that would be excellent reading with your child.

Now you know the “rest of the story” about Christopher Columbus and the reason for Columbus Day.

Until the next “Truth” sharing moment.

Cathy Jo




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