The Sinking of the Titanic, Willy Stower, 1912
In the spring of 1912 the world stood in awe. A colossus was setting out on her maiden voyage. The pride of the White Star Line was a marvel of modern engineering. At 882 feet long, she was the largest ocean liner ever built. The docks were packed with Brits who came to watch this floating palace steam out to sea.
With Victorian smugness, the press proclaimed that the impossible had been done with the building of this unsinkable ship. The captain boasted, “Even God himself cannot sink the Titanic.” Man was not only master of the seas; he was greater than God himself!
Some forty-eight hours later, on a clear April night, the ship Titanic grazed the side of an iceberg. It was so slight that most passengers hardly felt it. Yet it tore a three-hundred-foot-long gash in the hull. Within three hours the “unsinkable” Titanic sank four hundred miles south of Newfoundland, taking fifteen hundred people down to a watery grave.
It was a voyage doomed by pride. The Titanic enforced the class system of the late nineteenth century. On its luxurious top deck were opulent staterooms reserved for society’s elite like the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Goulds. Below them were the second-class decks for the more moderately well-off bourgeois. In the Titanic’s bowels were third-class decks crammed with poor immigrants and the ship’s workers.
The White Star Line was so paranoid about keeping the social classes separate that the doors between the decks were locked and chained. As a result, hundreds of passengers were trapped below. Hundreds more died needlessly because arrogant shipbuilders were certain that they had built a mega-ship that even God couldn’t sink. As a result, they didn’t think it necessary to provide enough lifeboats.
When news of the tragedy reached England, frantic relatives rushed to the Liverpool offices of the White Star Line to discover if their loved ones had survived. Outside the office was a single wooden board. On it were listed two columns of names. At the top of one was the word “SAVED.” Topping the other was the word “LOST.” No one was listed according to status or wealth. Astor, Vanderbilt, and Gould were listed among immigrants, waiters, and maids.
Only one thing mattered to those who rushed to the ‘White Star offices to learn their loved ones’ fates: were they lost or saved?
It would do us all good to stand there at the offices of the White Star Line with those folks on a cool April morning in 1912. We should realize that the ‘SS Earth’ is like an ocean liner plowing through cosmic seas. She is divided into social classes: winners and losers, haves and have-nots, celebrities and nobodies. So many of us are striving to move up to a higher deck. But there’s an iceberg out there. Sooner than we think, a sinkable SS Earth will collide with the end of time. Only one thing will matter on that day: Are you saved or lost? Before we hit that iceberg, we need to grab hold of this: Jesus Christ is not one of many ways to heaven. He the only way.
–Robert Petterson in Book of Amazing Stories, pp. 463-4, 2018, Tyndale.
“God said to me, ‘The world is sinking. I’m giving you a lifeboat. Save all you can.’”
–Dwight L. Moody, greatest American evangelist of the 19th century (1837-1899)
Luke 12:20a — God said unto him, “You fool, this very night your soul shall be demanded of you.”
Acts 4:12 — Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
Acts 16:30-31a — He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
John 3:16 — For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
From dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us…
–from The Great Litany in The Book of Common Prayer