”Wouldn't you like to go for a boat ride on San Francisco Bay?” asked Mr. Chittenden, a kind friend, one day. Mrs. White was always busy writing, writing, and he thought a little vacation would do her good.
“Indeed we would,” all the family agreed. They were soon ready with a lunch packed and were taken down to the dock to board the sailboat. It was a perfect day on the bay, and they sailed across the quiet waters. Once they drew up to a beach, and the children in the party played in the sand.
“I should like to go out through the Golden Gate, into the Pacific Ocean,” said one of the party, “but there is no wind to take us out of the harbor.”
“A friend of mine has a tugboat,” said another. “He will take us out through the Golden Gate, I am sure.”
In a short time they were being towed by the steam tug toward the Gate. When they reached the rocky points that guard the entrance of the bay, the waters became quite rough and the waves rolled in. Two of the young women became seasick, but Mrs. White enjoyed the ride.
“The waves ran high, and we were tossed up and down so very grandly,” she wrote to her husband, who was at a conference in Battle Creek. “I was highly elevated in my feelings, but had no words to say to anyone. It was grand.
The spray dashed over us, the watchful captain giving his orders, the ready hands to obey. The wind was strong outside of the Golden Gate, and I never enjoyed anything as much in my life.”
“Mrs. White looks happy, but she is quiet,” said Mr. Chittenden, as they rode along.
Mrs. White only smiled and looked out again over the racing waves. That day she had planned, before the invitation came for a boat ride, to write about Christ walking upon the sea and stilling the tempest. How impressive the scene was now as she saw the power of the great waves. She was filled with awe as she thought of the majesty of God and His works.
“He holds the winds in His hands. He controls the waters,” she said to herself. “We are mere specks upon the broad, deep waters of the Pacific; yet angels of heaven are sent to guard this little sailboat as it races over the waves. Oh, the wonderful works of God! So far beyond our understanding! At one glance He beholds the highest heavens and the midst of the sea.”
When evening came, the sailboat was towed back through the Golden Gate into the quiet waters of the bay, and there they watched the sun sink into the ocean with glorious colors reflected from the sky and in the waters.
The next morning early Mrs. White went back to her writing. But first she wrote to her husband to share with him the wonderful experience she had had on the ocean.
“How vividly before my mind was the boat with the disciples buffeting the waves,” she wrote. “The night was dark and tempestuous. Their Master was absent. The sea was strong, the winds contrary. Had Jesus, their Saviour, been with them, they would have felt safe. All through the long and tedious night they bent to their oars, forcing their way against wind and waves. They were beset with danger and horror. These were strong men accustomed to hardships and peril and not easily intimidated with danger. They had expected to take their Saviour on board the ship at a certain point designated, but how without Him could they even reach that spot? All in vain, the wind was against them.
“The strength of the rowers was exhausted, and yet the merciless storm had not abated, but was lashing the waves into a fury as though to engulf the boat and themselves. Oh, how they longed for Jesus.
“In the hour of their greatest peril, when they had given up all for lost, amid the lightning flashes in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus was revealed to them walking upon the water. Oh, then Jesus had not forgotten them. His watchful eye of tender sympathy and pitying love had watched them all through that fearful storm. In their greatest need He was close by them.
“He had told them where to meet Him. They were doing their utmost to obey Him and take Him on board, but a trial of their faith was necessary. And at the very point when despair was taking the place of hope, when they felt that they were utterly deserted, the eye of the world's Redeemer was watching them with a compassion that is as tender as a mother watching over a suffering child, and this love was infinite.
“The disciples were at first affrighted, but above the roaring of the angry tempest were heard the words the disciples longed most to hear, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’ Their confidence was restored. ‘Jesus, it is Jesus’ was spoken from one to the other. ‘Be not afraid; it is Jesus, the Master.’
“Jesus said to winds and waves, ‘Peace, be still.’ Can you wonder that I was silent and happy with these grand themes of contemplation? I am glad I went upon the water. I can write better than before.”