It was evening, over 100 years ago, in the summer of 1907 when some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people sat in a mansion and started down the path that would lead to the greatest ocean liner of its time. This liner would be the envy of the shipbuilding community, cater to the richest of society and set the standard for everyone else. On March 31, 1909, in the Harland and Wolff shipbuilding yards in Belfast, Ireland, the keel for the Titanic was laid. The hopes, dreams and ambition of many men were poured into this vessel. This ship was a crowning achievement in Victorian engineering, a floating dreamland and a ship that God himself could not sink.
On April 10, 1912, this monument to the ingenuity of man was at full steam on its maiden voyage. On April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m. an iceberg was spotted. First officer Murdoch shouted, “Iceberg right ahead.” All engines where thrown in reverse, but it was too late. The ship’s starboard side was compromised and the dream became a nightmare. The Titanic reported her location at 41° 46′ N, 50° 14. On April 15, 1912, exactly 100 years ago today, the mightiest ship of its time, the colossal floating palace, sank and became the poster child for the foolishness of man.
“Everyone has a dream,” Billy Joel sings. There are so many things that we long to do or experience. Like those who conceived and built Titanic, we have big dreams. These dreams are mighty enough to drive much of our lives. They help inform where we will go to school, if we marry, who we marry, where we live, who we are friends with, what the priorities of our lives will be, and what presuppositions we will hold to. The fulfillment of these dreams are what we believe will make us happy and satisfied in life. “Happiness is the driving force behind everything that you do. Anything you do has the desire for happiness at it’s center.”
Inevitably, our ship of dreams runs into disaster. We are forced to abandon them and jump into a lifeboat for safety. We are separated from the protection of the liner and become much more susceptible to the squalls of life. We are tossed around, capsized or just left to drift endlessly. The separation is not just from our dreams, it also from each other. Sitting alone in our little boats we cling to the hope that we will run across land or someone else. We long to join our hearts to something beyond ourselves.
The question for many of us becomes, “What is the purpose of this suffering? Why have my heart’s desires not been satisfied? Is there a chance that this devastation has some meaning?” And we answer these questions by buying, “into the philosophy that what we need to finally be happy is more of what we already possess.”* So we pursue more money, more power, more sex, more things and it leaves us even more isolated and unhappy than before.
“The majority of human beings believe that people and circumstances exist to make them happy. We believe the brokenness inside will be satisfied by things outside.”* God needs to allow us to run to the end of ourselves in the hope that we will stop looking to our dreams and to other people to fill what only he can. God wants us to stop worshiping the stuff he created and reorder our lives. It is by placing ourselves under this divine order that we can truly be free to live life to the fullest.
“God gives gifts to all men. Whether you believe in God or not, you are living, walking, and wearing his stuff. He gives gifts to all: food, drink, work, friends, family. He gives gifts to all, but only the children of God, only those who believe in Jesus, receive the gift of lasting enjoyment. Why? Because if we’re oriented around Jesus, our satisfaction is not tied to anything but him. We can actually enjoy God’s good gifts the way they’re designed to be enjoyed, because they are in orbit around the right sun – not our self, but our Savior.”*
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:9-11 ESV)
*Quotes from The Explicit Gospel – by Matt Chandler