The Man who Survived Doomsday
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Proverbs 32:8 ESV
The year was 1902. It was the 8th of May in the tourist town of St. Peres, Martinique. At 7:52 am a volcano near the village erupted. Immediately, a fiery ash cloud burst into the sky at 420 mph and quickly descended toward St. Peres. Within seconds buildings were flattened, the infrastructure melted, and ships out in the harbor caught fire and sank. Thirty thousand people lost their lives instantly. As they breath in the toxic ash cloud their lungs caught fire. Only one man within the city limits lived to talk about it and his story is fascinating. His name was Ludger Sylbaris, and he was known on the island as a drunk and a criminal. He had been drinking the night before and had gotten into a fight. There were some reports that say he killed a man. The local authorities were so disgusted at this rebel rouser that they threw him in solitary confinement and that is what saved him. For many years he traveled with the Barnum and Bailey Circus as, “the man who survived doomsday.” It seems a stroke of injustice that a criminal escaped the fire of Mount Peres while almost everyone else died a horrible death. But, as the French say, “c’est la vie.” Apparently, God had more days scheduled for this man of Martinique.
If you are reading this article, it is because God has willed you to live another day. This alone is a great gift not to be taken for granted. Our days are numbered, and our last breath will not come until our timecard has been punched. Now God does nothing without purpose, and so, He has designs for us in each new day. He also sets in motion the events and people He wants us to experience. The inevitable question comes regarding how we are to discover his plan for us daily. The answer is quite simple. The Lord makes it very clear in Proverbs 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” In the proceeding verse David prays that the Lord would be his hiding place to preserve him in times of trouble. What then is the secret to fulfilling God’s will each day?
It is of first importance that we focus our attention on Jesus. I am not speaking of a morning devotional or an evening prayer. I am referring to the practice of meditating on him all day long. Secondly, it is vital that we keep a very loose schedule. If we become too rigid in what we believe must be accomplished then we will not be available for his divine interruptions. I am not suggesting that we wander through life aimlessly but that we move about each day with a plan that can be altered at any moment. I suppose the best way of saying it is that we should have our feet on the ground and our eye to the heavens. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit is something to be cultivated. Hopefully Ludger Sylbaris made good use of the days God granted him.