Not Your Childhood Robinson Crusoe!
You remember Robinson Crusoe, don’t you? You know, the guy who got shipwrecked, landed on a desert island, fetched tools from the wrecked ship, grew corn and cotton, made friends with a native and named him Friday, and finally got rescued and lived happily ever after?
Well, that was the abridged version of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe that I read as a child, and that was the Disney movie story. But I just finished reading the real thing, the full, unabridged, 356-page adult version of Robinson Crusoe and, wow, what a difference!
The thing is, Robinson Crusoe was not just lost at sea. He was lost spiritually, although you’d never know it from the Disney version. And he was primarily saved, not from the wild sea or man-eating beasts or cannibals, but from his sins.
His spiritual crisis occurred after he almost died with ague (fever and chills). He managed to broil a piece of goat’s flesh, but could hardly eat it, and that night he roasted three turtle’s eggs. He said “this was the first bit of meat I had ever asked God’s blessing to, even, as I could remember, in my whole life.”
While he was recovering, he found a Bible among the things he had rescued from the ship. He opened it casually and read these words, “Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
That began his spiritual transformation, and much of the rest of the book – between the stories of fighting off cannibals – records the riches he found in Scripture and applied to his own life. Instead of feeling sorry for himself for being cut off from the rest of the world, he began to see how incredibly blessed he was, to be the only one saved from the shipwreck, to survive such primitive conditions on the island, and especially to come to a knowledge of sin and salvation.
Then he saves Friday, a captive about to be slaughtered and eaten by natives from another island. Not only does he gain a faithful servant and friend (even the abridged version says that), he also has someone to share the Gospel with.
He said, “I seriously prayed to God that he would enable me to instruct this poor savage, assisting by his Spirit the heart of the poor ignorant creature to receive the light of the knowledge of God in Christ, reconciling him to himself, and would guide me to speak so to him from the word of God, as his conscience might be convinced, his eyes opened, and his soul saved.”
This, then, is the real Robinson Crusoe. Don’t read (or let your kids read) that pablum that omits all the good stuff. Buy the unabridged version of Robinson Crusoe and learn how a wild rebellious seafaring man almost lost his life when his ship went down, but survived the wreck and met the One who saves all who are lost and turn to him.