A few nights ago Kelly and I sat down to watch Netflix's newest addition, Titanic. Confession: I saw this movie 4 times in theaters as a kid. Sigh.
It was called "the unsinkable ship". The largest people mover the world had ever seen, Titanic was the trophy of Humanism. We said proudly with iron and steel, "nothing is impossible for man!" It's maiden voyage on April 14, 1912 turned that exclamation point into a question mark. Today The hunk of decaying metal slumps on the ocean floor, forever remembered not as the greatest ship ever made, but the greatest irony ever recounted.
Though perhaps not for those who perished, for many who came after including ourselves the sinking of the Titanic is a peculiar mercy. It is a mercy because it is a warning. It is a warning because it is a parable. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6). In the final analysis, God levels all who lift themselves up before Him. Before we get in fisticuffs about God's sovereignty over calamity, let's not miss this point. Titanic happened. And there's a lesson for us if we're wise.
This is not an unfamiliar tactic for God to leverage a tragedy to drive home a point. Remember Jesus' seemingly unmerciful response to the news that a tower had collapsed on some sorry chaps in Siloam? Jesus told the crowd, "those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
Here's the rub: 5 seconds after we die there will be no more mercy for the enemies of God. No more examples, no more red flags. Only judgement. Only the great white throne of God. Only our lives laid bare before His penetrating gaze. What will we say on that day? That we didn't know any better?
God permits Titanic failures to happen for a billion different ends, not the least of which is lesson we learn as we reflect. It is God's intention that we come weak and needy before Him. The boastful will always be brought low and God will lift up all those who humble themselves. Until we despair of the of the strength our ship, the might of our iron and the beauty of our boat, the cross of Christ will only baffle and insult. The cross says of us, "Your ship has sunk". But it says something else as well. It beckons us aboard the Mercy Ship of Jesus to sail onto the shores of eternity, if only we'll board in lowliness of heart.