Sinking TitanicEarthly Security Only an Illusion

Depending on various factors, the average life span is approximately seventy-five years. At best, we can hope for but a few more years. The reality is, however, that none of us has any assurance that our time here on earth will not be cut short by some unforeseen circumstance. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we be ready at all times to meet our Maker.

One of the most significant economic events of the late nineteenth century was the Astor-Willing wedding that took place in Philadelphia between two of the richest families in America. No bride or bridesmaid ever wore more expensive dresses. The ceremony was estimated to have cost as much as $30,000. The gifts were estimated to have represented $2,000,000, a lavish sum for any time but especially for the period in which it took place.

Before going to Europe, the bride and groom were to spend three weeks on a yacht belonging to the groom’s grandfather. This yacht, with a compliment of fifty-two officers and men, was maintained at a cost of between 8 and $10,000 a month.

In spite of such an apparently favorable beginning, the marriage ended in divorce. Some time later, the young man, though no longer quite as young, remarried. To escape the adverse publicity, the bridal couple spent an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt. Upon the completion of their honeymoon, they booked passage on a voyage that was to return them to the United States.

The first few days proved uneventful, and the evening of April 14 settled in, a calm, moonless night. Though the air outside was chill, inside the passengers were enjoying a lovely dinner in the warm and lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, in the wireless room, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy receiving ice warnings from other ships in the area. These messages were regarded as normal warnings for this time of year and certainly of no immediate threat.

About 9:30 that evening, the ship came in contact with Cape Race, Newfoundland, and the wireless room became very busy sending passengers’ routine messages to friends, relatives, and business contacts. It was during this time that an urgent message was received reporting that a large ice field lay just ahead. The perceived importance of responding to the passengers’ interest in communicating their greetings to New York, however, occupied the full attention of the men in the radio room, and the most important ice warnings were ignored.

Suddenly, at 11:37, there was a slight jolt, unfelt by most aboard. Beneath the surface, however, thousands of gallons of water were pouring through a fatal opening made by an iceberg in the hull of the White Star Line’s newest and grandest ship—the unsinkable Titanic.

Of the 1527 passengers, no more than 705 were to survive. Among the lost was John Jacob Astor, the richest man on the Titanic and one of the richest in America at that time. His body was later found in a lifejacket, horribly mangled, presumably when one of the funnels fell from the badly listing ship just before it began its final plunge.

That night, a summons had been given from which no amount of wealth could purchase a reprieve. In one moment, the treasures of a lifetime were worthless to answer the soul’s great need. The fiat went forth, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” For hundreds of souls, the apparent security of the present was exposed to be a great illusion as they were suddenly faced with the reality of eternity.

To all, Satan comes disguising his temptations with a semblance of good. He will mingle with amusements and folly some little improvement, leading the soul to excuse itself from full dedication to the service of God on the basis of the good that is being accomplished. Many are his devices to hold us back from rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience to God. He knows that delay is fatal to the soul.

In warning His followers of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus gave explicit directions. A future event was pointed out as a sign, following which the Christians were to flee. Speaking of this event, Jesus said, “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” Matthew 24:17, 18. Implied in the instructions is the warning that there was to be but a little window of opportunity following the given sign during which an escape might be successfully accomplished. History, however, reveals that there was a lapse of several years between the two sieges of Jerusalem.

Why, we might ask, was such haste urged upon the Christians? It is because in delay, the mind adapts to the situation and the time to act never arrives. Those who postponed acting in response to the promised sign would never again find a convenient time in which to leave.

Influences that Mold Character

It is a law of our nature that by beholding, we inevitably become conformed to the likeness of that which we behold. The words we hear and the actions we behold have a telling power. Though their significance is not always recognized at the time, the impression made is reflected as either a blessing or a curse to the observer. If the Bible is our rule of life and we are daily spending time in God’s Word, imperceptibly to ourselves, our lives will take on the characteristics of its Author. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

And, just as inspired and spiritual truths elevate, so worldly influences work against our spiritual interests. Perhaps the influence that works more than any other to weaken the moral character is that of the entertainment industry, especially as it relates to television. The immoral and godless barrage that assaults us through the public media works to pervert our moral nature to the degraded likeness of that which we behold. In contrast to the common fare which is generally available for viewing today, the apostle admonishes us, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

The immorality of most entertainment is not the only issue, however. Wherever an influence is exerted to cause men to forget their Creator, you may know that Satan is at work there. It matters not how innocent the guise under which he conceals his purpose; anything that occupies the mind to the exclusion of the higher spiritual calling is working against our eternal interests. This thought gives an awful solemnity to life.

It was through rebellion against God’s revealed will that man originally lost his home in Paradise. How presumptuous on our part to expect that we will be allowed to return while in our everyday life we have lived a life out of harmony with God’s will as revealed in His Word. Our duty and obligation in this life, therefore, is to gain a clear understanding of His will for us and then submit our will to the higher authority of His purpose for us. Though unable of ourselves to render this acceptable service, if we earnestly pray to Him for the necessary strength, He will not only place within our hearts the desire to render obedience, but will give us the ability to do so. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5

We are on test and trial, and it must never be forgotten that Satan is playing the game of life for every soul. The Scriptures declare, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. A person who tries to serve God and the world is unstable in all his ways. His words may be fair, he may profess righteousness, but in heart he is a rebel against God and cannot be trusted.

In contrast, God calls us to a life of holiness. “As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15, 16

Soon we will each one be called to account for our stewardship. Will you be able to face the reality of eternity and say with confidence, “It is well with my soul”?