By Dr. Gary Heikkila
100 years ago, an unsinkable ship sank. The world’s interest in the fascinating history of the RMS Titanic has endured these many years. April 15, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship described as “the greatest moving man-made object in the world.” On its maiden voyage, this Ship of Dreams collided with an iceberg about 400 miles from Newfoundland, and sank in two hours and 40 minutes. The sinking in the cold dark icy water caused the deaths of 1,5l4 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
One of the most famous ships in history has been kept alive by numerous books, films, exhibits and memorials. James Cameron’s technically brilliant film, “Titanic,” has grossed an unprecedented one billion dollars. Sadly, the highly acclaimed film failed to communicate the deeper spiritual significance of the tragedy. It utterly fails to convey most of the heroism that took place. In fact 115 men in First Class and 147 men from Second Class stood back to make space available for women and children from Third Class and as a result died.
Heroic crew members struggled to rouse and shepherd the third class passengers to the boat decks. Many of these passengers were Swedish and Finnish emigrants who spoke no English. Many Catholic passengers preferred to gather in the dining room to pray the rosary. To calm the people, bandmaster Wallace Hartley led his seven musicians in playing cheerful music and ultimately the hymn, “Nearer My God To Thee” right to the end. No member of the band survived. Rev. Robert Bateman helped his sister-in-law, Mrs. Ada Balls into a boat. His last words to her were: “If I don’t meet you again in this world, I will in the next.” Some passengers prayed with Rev. Thomas Byles.
Many husbands and fathers knowing they would never see their loved ones again, exemplified the teachings of Jesus Christ in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Beloved, if the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic teaches anything, it is a stark reminder that life is short and so very uncertain. We should set our priorities in the light of eternity and live our lives as those who know that one day we must stand before Almighty God and give an account. Life is not a Hollywood movie. Rather, we are continually faced with all the harsh realities of life and death.
As the world media reminds us of the sinking of the Titanic one hundred years ago, it is the prayer of my deepest soul that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your Lord and Savior. It does not take an Oxford scholar to realize that we are living in perilous times. Jesus Christ is our only hope, He is our only lifeboat. Unlike the fate of the ship that was considered “unsinkable,” God’s children – in spite of the trials of life – are undergirded by His everlasting and loving arms.
According to Truth in Action Ministries, “America at present reminds me of the Titanic, chugging away in a major ice-field, with major moral icebergs ahead (if we haven’t already collided with them). Some of these moral icebergs include same-sex marriage, abortion, pornography, family breakdown, and expelling God from the public arena by using a faulty view of church and state separation. May God have mercy on us before it’s too late.”
Nothing is more certain than death and nothing as uncertain as the time of dying. We should be prepared at all times for that which may come at any time (Luke 12:19-31). Matthew Henry advised: “It ought to be our business every day to prepare for our last day.” George Whitefield declared: “Take care of your life and God will take care of your death.”
It was Rev. Peter Hammond who said so beautifully, “The highest expression of love is to give your life for another. This is the true message of the Titanic.”
Dear one, your sins can be forgiven and you can have a vibrant relationship with God when you repent of your sins and place your faith in His Son, Christ Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Dr. Gary Heikkila is a Certified Master Chaplain, CMC, for Homeland Security, and a Minister-at-Large.)