Daily Encouragement: Day 277

Adapted from: Handbook to Spiritual Growth


In 1938, a German merchant vessel was in the midst of a storm in the North Atlantic. The pressure of the sea was so great that the plates in the hull began to buckle, and within moments, the ship sank. Almost miraculously, one sailor stayed afloat by holding onto a cot mattress which had somehow not soaked through and was somewhat buoyant. Then from the south came a British cutter. The German sailor was spotted along with the wreckage of the sunken ship. The British ship “hove to,” even though this was a very dangerous thing to do in a storm. The German sailor rose and fell on the billowing waves. A seaman on deck threw out a lifesaver. The big doughnut landed next to the German sailor, but the sailor looked up and saw the British flag and the British faces. He knew that these people represented the traditional enemy of Germany. He turned his back on the lifesaver and slowly the mattress that buoyed him up sank under the waves. The sailor was lost.

When I read this account, I saw it as a parable of God’s offer of salvation. Jesus’ gift of deliverance from spiritual death is the lifesaver, and part of us instinctively resists taking hold of it because, without Christ, we are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). Like the German sailor, we can stubbornly refuse God’s offer, but if we do, we can never blame Him for our demise. The judgment is not a matter of degree. As Peter Kreeft observes, “There are only two kinds of people in the world; and they are not the good and the bad, but the living and the dead, the twice-born and the once-born, the children of God and the children of Adam, the pregnant and the barren. That is the difference between heaven and hell” (Love Is Stronger Than Death).

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