CS Lewis once said that when a ship is caught in a storm at sea, there are three main questions to ask.
Why are we here? How do we keep ourselves from sinking? How can we keep ourselves from crashing into things like rocks or other ships?
As we know, ships do sink at sea in powerful windstorms. Also ships do crash into things.
There is the tragic case of a passenger ship that was rammed by an iron ore carrier while on its way from New York to England. It happened about two days out into the Atlantic. On board was a mother with three girls.
The mother was rescued and cabled the tragic news to her husband, who had remained in New York. Her message was: “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Her husband immediately set sail to join her.
While on that ship, the captain informed him that they were passing over the location where the ship had sunk. The thought that his three little girls lay below in the depth of the sea was too much to bear. He went to his room in agonizing grief. All night he debated with God in prayer. How could He allow this to happen? It seemed so unfair.
By morning he was able to commit his little ones into God’s loving care and received peace. He sat at his desk and HG Spafford wrote the Christian hymn “It Is Well with My Soul”, which has brought comfort to so many people.
The downed ship is a kind of parable of our present society.
Our society is sinking from an overload of social problems that seem to grow instead of diminish. There is the tragedy of suicide, attempted suicide and other self-destructive behaviours, the plague of drug abuse and alcoholism. Added to these are the increasing occurrences of violence, intimidation, sexual assault, displays of anger and abuse. The list could be added to, but these are enough to give the idea.
In trying to address these situations, social workers and social services work with the noblest of motives to keep people from sinking in despair. But we may be busy trying to answer questions two and three as posed by CS Lewis but not providing an answer to the one which he said is the most important, namely, why am I here?
The unfortunate situation is that secular philosophy, which views the material and physical as the only reality, is impotent to help answer the “why?” questions of our existence.
Is it possible we are here by chance, the product of a universe that created itself? Are we the result of the evolutionary process of natural selection? If so, then what is the purpose of my existence? Someone should be giving an answer to such questions.
There is an answer and it comes from the Creator of the world and all that is in it. “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”(Genesis chapter one verse 27) Jesus confirms this statement in the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 verse six: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.”
And why are we here? Jesus makes it clear in Mark chapter 10 verses 30 and 31. It is to, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” And to, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no greater purpose for life than these.
If we find it impossible to do these two things, it should drive us to Jesus Christ, Who alone can make it possible. He sends the love of God into our heart to enable us to love Him and our neighbour. With His love poured into our hearts, we no longer need to be in doubt as to “why am I here?” We have fellowship with the eternal God Who created us to have fellowship with Him.
Lorne Moorhead is a retired pastor living in Flin Flon.