“Please,  God . . .”

“No! Not my glasses!”

Dick Duerksen
“Please,  God . . .”

I watched silently as Herb’s face wrinkled into a mask of desperation. Then an intense whisper blew away the silence. “No! Not my glasses!”

We were sailing on the San Francisco Bay, threading our way around Alcatraz Island, then catching the summer wind toward the Golden Gate Bridge. The cloudy California day included strong winds, rolling waves, and lighthearted fellowship.

We passed beneath the bridge in the company of several other sailboats, enjoyed a brief time on the open ocean, and then turned back toward Angel Island.


A friend of the college had invited the Pacific Union College administrative council (ADCO) to join him for a day of sailing on his large and beautiful boat. Malcolm Maxwell, our college president, was an avid sailor and quickly agreed. Then he called the rest of us to share the good news.

“It’ll be next Tuesday,” he said, “and you’ll love it!”

At the dock we listened carefully to the captain’s instructions. Those included life vest locations, how to walk when the boat was in large waves, how to flush the toilet, and when the sandwiches would be ready.

Got it, I thought as I tightened my jacket in the cold wind.

I had not been to Angel Island, though the rest of our family had been there on a school bicycling trip a few months earlier. Angel Island is the largest island in the San Francisco Bay and since the late 1800s has served as an immigration processing center, and as the “last stop” for thousands of World War II troops who were on their way across the Pacific. Today it is a California state park, with hills and beaches ideal for families who love bicycles.

We had left our bicycles home, but were looking forward to touring some of the old government buildings after docking at Ayala Cove.

As our captain brought us slowly into the dock, one of our administrators, Herb Ford, jumped down to the floating dock, saying he would help with the tie-down. As Herb’s feet met the wooden dock, everything moved, and the rest of us watched helplessly as he was catapulted off the dock and into the water beyond. As he emerged from the water, we all saw that the glasses he had had on his face going into the water were no longer there! They had spun off and were now somewhere deep in the murky water of the San Francisco Bay!

For a few moments I don’t think anyone breathed.

Then I saw desperation replace Herb’s normal smile. “No!” he whispered. “Not my glasses!”

Herb is a scholar, a writer, and a wordsmith, a person whose eyes are always busy gathering colors, shapes, and ideas. Many people “look.” Herb “sees.” When his glasses are perched on his nose, he sees clearly. Without them, Herb is a lost man.

Each member of ADCO immediately felt Herb’s pain. Our sailing adventure had become a disaster.


We peered over the edge of the ship, hoping to see the glasses caught on a rope or hanging on a piece of seaweed. We climbed down to the dock, knelt at the edge, and made shadows on the water surface so we could see more clearly. We talked with the man who was checking our state park pass.

“How deep is the water under our boat?” we asked. “How clear is it down there?” “Are there any sharks?” “Do you have any diving equipment we could borrow?”

His answers made the situation feel impossible. There was no diving equipment. The water was about 12 feet deep, very muddy and cold. “You won’t see anything down there, and you’ll need a wetsuit if you dive,” he frowned. “Sorry about that.” Then he went back to work.

I sat on the dock, thinking about glasses, God, and prayer. “Does God care about Herb’s glasses?”

Two fishermen were cleaning their catch on the beach. I wandered up toward them, wondering how they might be able to help and what I should ask them. Partway there, God suggested I should pray. Again. Maybe He does care about Herb’s glasses, I thought.

Lord, Herb’s blind without his glasses. Yes, he can see shapes and shadows, but nothing more. He’s going to need those glasses. In fact, he needs them right now! If there’s a way, please show me.

“Hi, there.” I tried to sound wise as I greeted the fishermen. “One of my friends has lost his eyeglasses beside the dock. Any way you might be able to help him out?”

Dumb question, I shouted to myself.

“Oh, no!” one of them exclaimed. “I don’t know what we could do, but we do have a snorkel and goggles. You can use them if you decide to dive in and look.”

The other man chuckled. “I’ve got a wetsuit too.” He slowly measured my size with his eyes. “I think you could get into it. Maybe.”


I did not want to dive into the murky water beside the Ayala Cove dock. I did not want to squeeze into a wetsuit two sizes too small. I did not want to run my clean hands into the mud and goop and unmentionables that might be hiding under the dock. I did not . . .

I’m thinking about Herb’s glasses, God said quietly into my ear. Snorkel, mask, and wetsuit. What more do you need?

But, God . . . My conversation sounded more like a complaint than a prayer. I was hoping You might make them float, or send an expert diver with a large underwater flashlight. It’s been a couple years since I did any ocean diving, and I wasn’t planning to dive today.

You, God said. Now.

The wetsuit required considerable squeezing and exhaling, but the snorkel and mask were fine. The water proved to be cold, without icebergs. The muck was worse than I had imagined. As I swung my fingers from side to side through the deep layers of “stuff” on the bottom, I tried not to imagine losing my hand to a broken bottle or a sea dragon.

“Nothing down there, Herb. I’m sorry.”

“Please try again, Dick. I’ll pray for you.”

There was nothing the next time, either, and now a small crowd was gathering to watch me fail.

Lord, Herb needs his glasses, and I need this to be my last dive. Please send the glasses to me.

My fingers passed through something sticky and gooey, then my right hand clipped into something hard and spindly—with handles! I grabbed tightly and kicked for the surface, right hand first. By the time I lifted the mask, Herb was reaching down, shouting loudly, and reaching to take his glasses from my hand.

Did God care about Herb’s glasses? Herb thought so. The fishermen thought so. The state park officer thought so. The captain and the other members of ADCO thought so.

Me? I think God knew I needed a lesson in trust, and He gave it to me, the wet way.

Dick Duerksen