“It only takes an ocean to make you feel tiny.”
There are certain books that, once you finish reading, you need some time to process it. You need to look up and sigh and let the words sink in. The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom is one of those spiritual books (although fiction) that makes you think of your life and how you spend it.
The story starts with a famous yacht, The Galaxy, carrying multi-millionaire people, sinking due to some unknown reason. Ten survivors are fortunate to find a raft where they spend many days on the endless ocean, with no hope of rescuing them.
And what do you normally do in times of utter despair? You cry out to God.
“Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says.
“I am the Lord,” the man whispers.
And what if God comes out of nowhere in the shape of a human? It’s human’s natural reaction that either they won’t believe at all or they would want God to prove His power by showing a miracle. Some even might believe that they are delirious of staying in the ocean for so long.
Our main character and narrator, Benji, writes and narrates his days on the raft, telling all the details and incidents he and others experienced on the raft. On the third day, when the passengers find a man in the middle of nowhere, they cannot believe how he survived out there with no food and water. But the man claims to be God.
“Did you know a crab will space its shell thirty times before it dies?” He looked out to the sea. “This world can be a trying place, Inspector. Sometimes you have to shed who you were to live who you are.”
Benji keeps writing to his wife, Annabel, in which he relays how everyone reacts to God’s presence. Mr. Lambert, the owner of the yacht, laughs at the absurd idea. Jean Phillippe awaits the miracle, which he actually sees.
Benji watches as, one by one, each survivor loses hope or dies due to an accident. In the end, only Benji and God remain.
A year later, Inspector Jarty LeFleur, finds an abandoned raft washed ashore on the island of Monserrat. LeFleur is struggling with the trauma and loss of his daughter and has stopped believing in God. When he discovers a notebook with no survivor in the raft of a yacht that sank a year ago, he starts looking at life from a different perspective.
“Feeling loss is part of why you are on Earth. Through it, you appreciate the brief gift of human existence, and you learn to cherish the world I created for you. But the human form is not permanent. It was never meant to be. That gift belongs to the soul.”From “The Stranger in the Lifeboat” BY MITCH ALMBOM
We don’t know if Benji (the narrator) actually met God or if he was in so much despair and delirium out in the ocean that his mind created some imaginary person whom he could talk to. But what the book tells us is that God is everywhere. We believe Him or not, He is still omniscient. The lack or the abundance of faith doesn’t really prove who is closer to God. No matter how powerful we think we are, certain things are still out of our control, and there is one mystical power that controls everything…beyond our imagination.
A thought-provoking and fast-paced story of life, death, and despair that compels you to reconsider your deepest beliefs.