On a recent long drive I started listening to a college course on CD called Conquest of the Americas, so I’m learning, among other things, about Christopher Columbus. One scholar says his voyages (circa 1492) were the most important events in the history of the world, with the exception of the incarnation of the one who made it. We all know that Columbus got a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong. It’s likely that he never knew he came to a new continent, thinking he ended up in the indies. Hence, the incorrect moniker “Indians”. How did he miscalculate?
A Historic Miscalculation
In his day, most learned people believed the world was round, but they also believed the chasm between western Europe to the Indies was simply too far to traverse. Columbus thought the journey was around 2,400 miles, so he was willing the take the gamble. Among his mistakes was the miscalculation of a degree of longitude. While an actual degree is about 69 miles, he thought it was about 57 miles. So rather than correctly calculating the earth’s circumference at 25,000 miles, he had it at around 19,000 miles. Consequently he had the courage and confidence to journey westward. Ironically, Columbus’ miscalculation led to his greatest achievement.
Freedom to Fail
I take encouragement in that, both from human and divine perspectives. None of us get all of our longitudinal calculations perfectly accurate, and in our self-delusion end up in places we never intended or envisioned. It’s all held in place, of course. This morning I read this, and I hope it is an encouragement to you.
1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
3 The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.
5 Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.
In what areas have you miscalculated and seen God redeem the circumstances? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.