RESISTING A SHARK ATTACK
Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit, has written a new book entitled Unbroken in which she tells an astonishing tale of survival, resilience, and redemption. During World War II, Louis Zamperini joined the Army Air Corps as a bombardier. After his B-24 Liberator crashed into the ocean, he survived 47 days on a raft at sea before his dehumanizing capture and torture by the Japanese.
While drifting at sea, Louie and two other surviving crew members experienced a fearful phenomenon - sharks. A shark is a carnivore predator, a meat-eating fish and one of the most feared animals of the sea. Sharks were uninvited, constant companions throughout the saga of the raft. Here are a few goose-pimpling excerpts:
"The sharks... were so close that the men would only have to extend their hands to touch them. The smallest were about six feet long; but some were double that size, twice the length of the rafts. They bent around the rafts, testing the fabric, dragging their fins along them..." p. 129
"The coolness of the ocean beckoned and couldn't be answered, for the sharks circled. One shark, six or eight feet long, stalked the rafts without rest, day and night. The men became especially wary of him, and when he ventured too close, one of them would jab him with an oar." p. 141
"As the men sat together, exhausted and in shock, a shark lunged up over the wall of the raft, mouth open, trying to drag a man into the ocean. Someone grabbed an oar and hit the shark, and it slid off. Then another shark jumped on and, after it, another." p. 156 - 157
"Growing wiser, they gave up flinging themselves haphazardly at the men and began stalking about, waiting for a moment when an oar was down or a back was turned before bulling their way aboard. Over and over again they lunged... Mac and Phil smacked them away." p. 157-158
During a strafing attack by a Japanese plane, Louie jumped overboard into the water and hid under the raft only to see the huge, gaping mouth of a shark emerge out of the darkness. As Louie prepared to fight with his bare hands some of his survival training came to mind.
"Louie remembered the advice of the old man in Honolulu: Make a threatening expression, then stiff-arm the shark's snout. As the shark lunged for his head, Louie bared his teeth, widened his eyes, and rammed his palm into the tip of the shark's nose. The shark flinched, circled away, then swam back for a second pass. Louie waited until the shark was inches from him, then struck it in the nose again. Again, the shark peeled away." p. 155
And then, an assault by the apex predator of all sharks. "Swelling up from under the water came a leviathan: a vast white mouth, a broad back parting the surface, and a long dorsal fin, ghostly in the moonlight. The animal was some twenty feet long, more than three times the length of the raft. Louis recognized its features from his survival training. It was a great white shark." p. 163
Contemplating the horrific shark experiences, I can easily make a connection to what the Bible says about Satan and the tactics he employs. I Peter 5:8,9, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Hmmmm... bare my teeth, widen my eyes, and ram my palm into the devil's nose. This could well be another metaphor for resisting him and remaining firm in my faith. Certainly the threat is very real but I would like my life to be a tale of survival, resilience, and redemption, just like Louie Zamperini.