A Mini-Titanic Lesson

Anybody for a cruise in the Mediterranean? The capsizing of the massive luxury liner, the Costa Concordia (twice the size of the ill-fated Titanic), has galvanized the attention of the gaping world. According to some reports a mere 300 feet from shore, this luxurious $450 million floating city of 4200 passengers and crew struck a rocky outcropping in the reef off the island of Giglio, gashed a fatal hole in its hull, rolled to one side and began to sink. Only the snagged reef kept the vessel from sinking to the seabed 160 feet below. As a missionary child in Japan I sailed with my family around the world twice in ocean liners. And Karen and I have enjoyed a couple cruises along the way. But I can only imagine the panic of that sea-faring vessel tipping to its side at night, the power out, all its occupants and furniture slammed into heaps against leaning walls precariously becoming floors! It’s the stuff of nightmares, I’m sure. And to listen to the survivors’ harrowing accounts of those dreadful hours trying to get to life-boats or at least to one of the decks in order to leap into the black waters—all the while the captain of the sinking vessel had already abandoned ship with some of his officers—you can hardly blame those who have pledged not to “cruise” again . . . or at least not for a long time! But for the rest of us land-lubbers, what’s the point in this morality tale? It is Titanic redux. The Costa Concordia boasted state-of-the-art technology and opulent comforts second to none. What on earth could possibly harm this gaily-lit, sea-faring, horn-blasting ocean vessel of revelers, partiers and vacationers? It is the tale of our own civilization in the “fourth watch” of earth’s night, isn’t it? Not unlike the besotted revelry that possessed Belshazzar’s palace that last night on earth—where in the night watches the vessel of that ill-fated empire suddenly lurched, gashed open by the bloodless hand writing on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN—you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 4:25-28). Time’s up, the party’s over, here comes the Judge. What will save our own civilization in this fourth watch of the night? Not the hubris of the captains and titans of industry, government and finances, that is certain. Earth’s only hope lies in the One who walks upon our stormy night waters. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).  Christ still cries out into the night His offer of salvation, and we who know Him best must tell the rest. To not share our Savior with those on this sinking ship would be tantamount to scrambling into the life boat ourselves, but ignoring the countless others who, unless we reach out to pull them on board, will likely perish in the night.