Columbus Reaches the New World

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sighted a Bahamian island, believing he had reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempts to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. Columbus had set sail on August 3, 1492, from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinia, and the Nina.

On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December, the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men.

The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the tenth century.

What Columbus did over 500 years ago is a parable on life. He found something new, but didn’t know it. Columbus stumbled onto the new world. God has a whole new world for each of us. The problem may not be that we haven’t seen God’s “new world,” but that we didn’t recognize it when we got there.

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