Peter Michelmore reported this story in the Oct. 1987 Reader’s Digest:
Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only 65 minutes. But on Dec. 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beechcraft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds.
When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away.
Suddenly Watt’s right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water. Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest.
With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours.
In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion.
Then he heard the hum of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot dropped a smoke canister and radioed the cutter Cape York, which was 12 minutes away. “Get moving, cutter! There’s a shark targeting this guy!”
As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob’s ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck.
He’d been saved. He didn’t need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside intervention from above could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt.
We cannot be saved by ourselves. There must be divine intervention from above.
The slate won’t come clean by itself. Christ must erase the wrong, then write on there, “Forgiven and going forward.”
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Greg Buchner on Oct 11, 2004
“A 2 a.m. Miracle” – Joni Eareckson Tada It was 2 a.m. and Ken, my husband was snoring softly beside me, not aware that I was biting my lip to keep from waking him up. The combination of my paralysis with middle-of-the-night insomnia always makes me feel claustrophobic. But this was different. ...read more
Contributed by Brad Bailey on Aug 3, 2004
Max Lucado, in his book, “Six Hours One Friday,” tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. They lived near a large river. The tribe was in need of medical attention. A contagious disease was ravaging the population. People were dying ...read more
Contributed by Mike Wilkins on Feb 21, 2005
I mentioned Brian McLaren’s book “A Generous Orthodoxy” last week. The chapter after “Would Jesus Be a Christian” is titled, “Jesus, Savior of What?” In this chapter he argues that while Jesus did come to save us as individuals, we in the west have placed such a strong emphasis on personal ...read more
Contributed by Robbie Shivar on Jun 4, 2004
30% of an average person’s anxiety is focused on things about the past that can’t be changed. If we were honest with ourselves, we all would say that there is something in our past that we regret doing and ...read more
Contributed by Sam Mccormick on Aug 14, 2017
God's grace as the avenue of salvation is sometimes seen as being in conflict with obedience of the believer as a requirement, without which salvation cannot be obtained. Which is it, or is it a combination? Can this dichotomy be satisfactorily resolved?
Contributed by Jim Butcher on Apr 23, 2013
God could have had Abraham put a tattoo on his arm or any one of a thousand other signs, but instead He chose the sign of circumcision? Why in the world? And, beyond that, what relevance does that have for Christians today?