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Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 22:36

The Way of Courage!

Two tragedies in the waters on opposite sides of the nation this week provoke a somber reminder. In a split second, all that is familiar and secure can be blown away!

The disastrous onboard explosion and fire sinking the dive-boat Conception on Monday have stunned the Santa Barbara seaside community. The “75-foot vessel once described by California Diving News as 'California’s crown jewel of live-aboard dive boats,' caught fire about 20 yards off the north shore of Santa Cruz Island and now lies upside down on the ocean floor in about 62 feet of water, authorities said” (www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-04/california-boat-fire-conception-victims). While five of the six crew members survived by leaping into the 3 AM waters, 34 others below deck perished—including a family of five divers celebrating their father’s birthday “with a luxurious three-day excursion that was to include diving amid the kelp forests, nature lectures and gourmet meals” (ibid).

How suddenly, how tragically life is extinguished.

On the opposite shore of the country Hurricane Dorian (at the time of this writing) is still clawing its way up the eastern seaboard. Left behind in its howling wake are pictures of mind-numbing devastation. I watched a helicopter video cam (its chopping propeller the only sound) as it whirled over the flooded, flattened islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. This surreal photographic capture of the hurricane's atomic-bomb-like obliteration is reminiscent of those black and white photographs of post-atomic bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Flattened. Gone.

How suddenly, how tragically life is extinguished.

Beyond the sorrow over lives lost is the somber reminder life can end just as instantaneously for any of us. Hours before his own death, Jesus warned of planetary upheaval before his return: “‘There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea’” (Luke 21:25). The net effect on the collective human psyche? “‘People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world’” (v 26).

The gaggle of end-of-summer headlines is hardly a collection to inspire confidence! Mass shootings, trade and tariff wars, economic downturn predictions, political stalemates, et al—we’ve heard this song before—a siren song for the followers of Christ, the unsettling reminder that we live too close to the edge to ignore the warnings. Bad news?

Not at all. For as Jesus put it, “‘When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’” (v 28). It is the way the Good News has always traveled—on the heels of escalating trouble comes the promise of impending deliverance. Thus courage is the way we who follow must take. “For he who called you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).