Mar6MonMarch 6, 2023
Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (1Tim. 1:19 NLT)
I recently read an article on the discovery of a sunken barge in Northern Lake Huron, called the Ironton, which sunk in September of 1894. Back in that period of history, before the invention of the automobile, goods were transported by ship from Chicago to Detroit or Cleveland. They would make the long journey by going all the way up Lake Michigan, through the Straits of Mackinac, into Lake Huron, then all the way down the lake to the American destination city. The northern part of this journey through Mackinaw City is the most treacherous, as the winds come off of Lake Superior at an incredible rate. When I was going to school in Thunder Bay, I would often take Interstate 75 through this area, across the bridge to go to Sault Ste Marie. I would encounter the worst winds and storms ever in this area, especially in the winter. Back in September 1894, the Ironton and another cargo barge, were being towed by a steam ship, like a freight train. When they got into the rough seas of northern Lake Huron, the tow lines were disconnected and the Ironton was on its own, setting up its sails and firing up its engine. The vessel, driven by the gale force winds, veered off course and collided with another freight vessel, named the Ohio. The 16-member crew of the Ohio was rescued by a passing ship, but the crew of the Ironton was not so fortunate. The captain and six sailors jumped into a lifeboat to escape the sinking ship, but they could not detach the lifeboat from the Ironton and were pulled under with the ship. Only two crew members survived, being rescued by another ship. The powerful storm, also claimed the crew of another ship that night. Over 200 ships have sunk in that area of Lake Huron, known as “Shipwreck Alley”.
As I read the tragic story of the Ironton, I could not get the picture out of my head of being in the escape boat - the lifeboat - but not being able to cut the cords to the sinking vessel. What an image! What a metaphor! How many people have I known over the years who have not been able to cut the cord to their past life, been unable to make a clean break with the world Jesus rescued them from and been dragged down into the abyss of sin and destruction. Paul tells his disciple Timothy to “cling to your faith in Christ” or as the Amplified puts it, “leaning completely on God with absolute trust and confidence in His guidance”. Faith in Christ means giving Him complete control of your life, whereby He, your Master, guides you into His perfect will by His word, and voice - with “absolute trust and confidence” that Jesus knows what is best for you and can lead you away from danger and destruction into that which gives real life. What is conscience? That God-given ability to know the difference between right and wrong – your moral compass. Conscience is an internal discernment to make proper judgments that honor God, rather than satisfy the flesh. The apostle Paul says that proper teaching creates a pure heart, a clear conscience and a sincere faith (1Tim. 1:5 NLT) I believe that Holy Spirit is the One who informs our conscience, because He is able to lead us into all truth and convict us of those choices that do not honor God, nor line up with His word (John 16:8-15).
In a nutshell, the message I believe that God wants us to get is to cut off all those things that could potentially drag us to our death. Putting off the old, and clinging to the new in Christ, is a command the word of God repeats. We are to not love the world, nor the things in the world for these things will surely bring us down into the abyss. If you want true life, leave the ship. Ask yourself, what is pulling you down – cut the cord! Even rats know to flee a sinking ship. Maybe that thing you need to leave is a person who continues to entice you to do things against your conscience. Maybe it is a lifestyle or habit that continues to bring you guilt and discouragement. Friends, aspire to live a life that honors God and glorifies Him. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us live abundant lives in Christ. We don’t want to be part of Shipwreck Alley.
The Ironton was discovered in the last couple of years, using high-definition underwater cameras. One can see the ship, fully intact, sitting upright with the lifeboat still attached – a reminder that unless someone is able to cut the ropes to that which is destined to perish, that someone will perish also. But that is not our destiny in Christ!
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