A different look at every day issues.

What Really Matters Will Not Be Lost

If I were to ask you, "What event comes to mind when I say shipwreck?" Most immediately refer to the sinking of the Titanic while in reality, it's loss of life paled in comparison to the Lusitania (1,924), the Wilhelm Gustloff (9,300), or the Dona Paz (4,386). 

One such disaster stands out among the others as truly unique. It is the sinking of the Andrea Doria in July 1956, Italy's finest and most luxurious ocean cruiser ever. Its amenities included state-of-the-art technology and a unique double hull to ensure its unsinkability. It had made the trans-oceanic trip exactly 100 times and was now nearing New York Harbor early the morning of July 26. At the same time, the Swedish-American cruiser, Stockholm, with its bow heavily reinforced for ice breaking, was leaving the harbor. There, in the dense fog off Nantucket Island, a maritime disaster was about to be written into the history books.

Following several critical errors by the boats' captains and crew, the Stockholm slammed into the side of the Andrea Doria. As the two giant vessels sat motionless in the water, the Andrea Doria's fuel tanks filled with 500 tons of sea water. The bow of the Stockholm had slashed through both of her hulls and she began to list sharply to one side. A distress signal was immediately sent out and all but 52 people were saved.

The thing that makes this story incredible was not the relatively low loss of life from both ships, but a unique rescue no one has been able to explain. After the Stockholm had been towed back into New York Harbor, workers began to inspect its damaged bow. There, in the twisted beams of iron and steel, they found a young girl. The interesting thing about this girl was that she had been a passenger on the Andrea Doria. As the two ships collided, she was actually clawed from her sleeping compartment and deposited in the bow of the Stockholm. It took several days to reunite her with her grief-stricken mother. She is Linda Morgan, step-daughter of the famous ABC correspondent Edward P. Morgan. Her younger sister was killed. 

There are apparent shipwrecks in marriages, occupations, relationships, and ministries. There are times when you may feel you've already slipped beneath the waves. A catastrophe may have changed the course of your life and you couldn't understand why it came about and how it could ever fit into His plan for your life.

You might even feel like the little girl, Linda Morgan, who was literally clawed from her place of safety on the Andrea Doria and deposited in the midst of massive wreckage in another vessel. Your former feelings of safety and security evaporated in the aftermath of the circumstance that left you feeling shipwrecked and broken. 

Let me tell you what the Apostle Paul told those aboard the rapidly sinking ship that was supposed to take him to Rome (Acts 27:1-27). The storm will soon be over and what really matters will not be lost.
Additionally, you are God's chosen vessels--ships that carry the good news through the storms of life bringing hope and healing to those who desperately need to know God cares.

God has not left us, nor will he abandon ship when life sends us a tsunami. Nothing has happened in your life that has not first received his permission.  The power of his love will both sustain you and keep you when you think all is lost.

Remember, your storm will soon be over and what really matters will not be lost.

God's Timing Pattern

One of the most interesting components of football provides a partial understanding of the providence of God. It is called the timing patternA wide receiver or tight end breaks from the line of scrimmage--apparently oblivious to what the quarterback is doing in the backfield. As he jukes right or left, he turns and BAM! there's the football. If executed properly, the timing pattern is almost indefensible, but requires BOTH the quarterback and the receiver know the pattern and willingly commit to making the play exactly as it was designed.

An interesting quality of the timing pattern also requires the thrown ball be almost to the receiver before he turns, finds the ball and makes the catch. Here's another interesting side note. The quarterback did not throw the ball to the player but rather to a place on the field. If the receiver does not execute his pass route properly, he is not there when the ball arrives.

God designed life to be a timing pattern. We can know what God wants us to do and where he wants us to be if we listen carefully to his daily instructions detailing the "plays" and routes necessary for being in the center of his will. We huddle with the Father and listen intently as he lays out the plan--not in some generic and general sense, but in a specific and deliberate manner that always produces eternal results.

The problem most encounter is simply a misunderstanding of who's calling the plays and what their specific function is to be. Can you imagine what would happen if a quarterback called a certain timing pattern and the receiver decided his own route was better? He would not be at the place on the field when the ball arrives and the defenders easily move in for the interception. Good play gone bad!

We find ourselves in timing patterns of life that demand our complete trust. Will God's provision be there when I need it? Does he know where I am right now? Does he know the struggle I go through to be obedient to his play-calling?

The weak link is never with God. He is faithful to execute the plays he's called in the lives of his obedient children. He has already thrown the ball--his provision--and it's up to us to be where it will arrive. 

Following a Fixed Point

My brother, Jon, recently posted some thoughts about the moral compass of our conscience . . . 
"It’s a moral compass that’s aligned with the true north of God’s own standards for right and wrong." 
I couldn't help remembering a unique practice I adopted a several years ago. As I spend many hours in board meetings and committees, I decided that I needed a reminder of an eternal value

I never will forget the first time I used this unique reminder. I arrived at a board meeting at about the usual time. Others were preparing their places at the table with an assortment of folders, computers and other gadgets. After I had my folders in place and ready for the meeting, I reached into my brief case and retrieved a small compass which I promptly laid on the table directly in front of where I sat.

After a short moment, I discovered an uneasy feeling at having to eventually explain my choice of "gadgets." I was sure that someone would say something, but the morning went by and nobody said a word. I remember the relief I felt at not having to explain. My practice continued for several years without a single inquiry. Finally, someone asked me, "Jim, why do you always have a compass on the table?" I had forgotten the uneasiness of my first few meetings when I was just sure someone would want an explanation. "Are you lost?" they asked, trying to bring some levity to their curiosity.

I looked across the table and started my explanation. The room was filling with board members following a needed break in the meeting. As we returned to our chairs, I could tell another board member was also curious but would never venture into the potential "gotcha" waters. Then another member tuned his ears to hear the explanation. "It is only a reminder that there is always a fixed point in the decision-making process. This little compass always points north--wherever it is--always north. We have a fixed point in Jesus Christ. He is always the same--never changes. We can always depend on Him to give us direction when we are lost. We deal with a lot of issues here and, I don't know about you guys, but I need to know there is a fixed point to which we can keep coming back."

That was all I said. Nobody laughed or inquired further. The meeting started again as I sat staring at the compass, evaluating my explanation. 

We need to know there is a fixed point in life. People easily lose their way as hope disappears from their once confident life. Jesus Christ is that fixed point and He will never point us in the wrong direction. We can depend on His unfailing love and guidance.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6