A Colorado couple sold everything they owned to buy a twenty-eight-foot sailboat. They spent a year refurbishing it, then set out to sea. On their second day, their craft struck something underwater. Water flooded the cabin. The couple grabbed Social Security cards, cash, IDs, and their dog as they fled the boat.
The woman told a reporter, "Everything I've worked for, everything I've owned since I was a child, I brought with me. It's just floating away and there's nothing I can do." However, she was undeterred: "The boat sank, but our dreams didn't sink with the boat."
Other accidents in today's news were far more traumatic.
Lionel Douglass was attending a wedding at the Grand Canyon when he saw a sightseeing helicopter crash and explode. He told ABS News, "I had taken my phone and I was zooming in to see if I could see anybody and a lady walked out of the flames and I just lost it." Three people died; four survivors were taken to a local hospital and remained in critical condition as of last night.
Sunday afternoon, a Russian jetliner crashed near Moscow, killing all 71 passengers and crew. London City Airport was closed last night after an unexploded World War II bomb was found nearby. Residents in the area were asked to leave their homes overnight.
One fact about life today is that we cannot predict life tomorrow. However, we can choose to be ready. A movie I saw over the weekend shows us how.
"The 15:17 to Paris"
On August 15, 2015, a twenty-five-year-old Moroccan man named Ayoub El-Khazzani boarded a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris. He was armed with an assault rifle, a Luger pistol, a box cutter, and 270 rounds of ammunition.
Also on the train were three Americans: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. When El-Khazzani began his attack, Stone tackled the terrorist and was able to subdue him. The other two helped hold him down, eventually tying him up. Stone then helped a wounded passenger, saving his life.
I saw Clint Eastwood's The 15:17 to Paris last Saturday. It tells the story of these three heroes, including Stone's childhood recitation of the prayer of St. Francis, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace." At one point, Stone tells Sadler, "Do you ever just feel like life is just pushing us towards something, like some greater purpose?"
Skarlatos later said, "It was as if we were in training our whole lives for that moment and didn't know it."
"It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous"
To live in a way that redeems today while preparing for tomorrow, remember four biblical facts.
One: True love never counts the cost of service.
When Mary anointed Jesus, "there were some who said to themselves indignantly, 'Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor'" (Mark 14:4-5). Jesus responded by predicting, "Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her" (v. 9). We are fulfilling his promise by remembering her sacrifice today.
When we truly love someone, no cost is too great in expressing that love. If we measure the cost of serving Jesus, we can be sure that our hearts are not as close to him as Mary's was. But when we love him passionately, we will serve him sacrificially. And we will love those he loves.
Two: Momentary sin leads to lasting consequences.
Twenty years after Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, they were still dealing with their crime: "In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen" (Genesis 42:21). Jesus warned us, "Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin" (John 8:34).
Three: Prosperity on earth can distract us from the priority of heaven.
Paul testified, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound" (Philippians 4:12). Commenting on the latter phrase, Charles Spurgeon noted: "The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous."
He explained: "We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry-so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God."
Four: Service prepares us for eternity.
Jesus urged us, "Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come" (Mark 13:33). He added, "You do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning" (v. 35). The safest way to be ready to meet Jesus is to be busy serving Jesus.
We cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness. Are you ready to meet Jesus today?
First published at the Denison Forum.