Health & Wellbeing

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Giving In – to Give Out


The Black Sea isn’t very big. But it has witnessed its fair share of marine trauma. I was reading about the humiliation Putin has suffered as a result of the Russian navy sinking one of their own ships. According to a news report, that ship was a landing craft which exploded when it hit one of the sea mines, they’d laid themselves. And although the crew survived, it left Putin with a rather red face.
This comes on top of another incident, earlier, in which one of their largest warships was sunk by Ukrainian forces in the same area of the Black Sea.

Rewinding the historical tape to 1986, another marine mishap occurred when two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. On this occasion, tragically, hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. When news of the disaster broke, an investigation was launched into the cause of the accident.
In due course, the findings of the inquiry were released, revealing a very dark scenario. The accident was absolutely avoidable, for it wasn’t a technology problem like a radar malfunction, or even thick fog that brought the two ships crashing into each other with such dire consequences. No. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. And both ships had the time and the room to steer clear of each other. But, according to information gleaned through the inquiry, neither captain was prepared to give way to the other. Each of them was too proud to be the first to yield. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late!
Across the ditch – half a world, and a century away – one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, launched a day of ‘National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer’ in 1863.
In part, he said of the American people: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” 

Ah yes. Fast forward the tape to today, and that speech would also resound with truth here in good old Oz!
It seems that pride and a stubborn disinclination to give God room to move or a voice to speak in our own society has led this nation down a path that provides little in the way of hope for the future. While we recognize and rue the potential for climate change to ruin the environment and compromise our very physical existence, in a general sense, aren’t we stubbornly refusing to consider the possibility of error in our development as a nation? Isn’t it time to address the issue of pride that keeps us from acknowledging our Christian heritage and teachings? God would be stoked if many more were to fervently grasp the life he created us to live – a life of love and unqualified service to others – free from the excesses of selfishness.