The Titanic’s deck chairs

by Barry Newton

Within the early hours of April 15, 1912, the Titanic slid below the icy waves of the North Atlantic. Two hours and forty minutes earlier a deadly iceberg had sliced along the hull.

Let’s wind the clock back on that fateful night to about 9 p.m.

As the ship’s clocks tolled nine and lights flickered throughout the ship, all was well aboard the Titanic. It was just another wonderful luxurious evening at sea. Churning through the water, the deadly encounter still lay nearly three hours ahead.

It is not difficult to imagine as the night grew stronger, a crewman realigning the deck chairs in straight rows for the coming day. How meaningful was this work? Apparently, meaningful in every way. Straight rows not only would provide an aesthetic appeal for the following day, they also contributed towards his paycheck. Good honest work!

And yet, in less than three hours, as rivets popped, metal tore and water gushed, whatever meaning seemed to have existed immediately began to evaporate. For how much significance can there be in how the chairs look on a sinking ship?

Ecclesiastes points to this ultimate destroyer of purpose and significance — our own personal Titanic end.

“Everyone shares the same fate – the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, … This is the unfortunate fact about everything that happens on earth: the same fate awaits everyone” (Proverbs 9:2,3).

When nothing is gained in spite of the effort, if the result will be the same regardless, then everything is as futile as trying to grasp the wind.

As for those of us attempting to find solace in creating a better tomorrow, if this world is all that exists then humanity along with our planet is hurtling toward the heat death of absolute zero. Whether we take care of our planet or help humanity is completely meaningless. A frozen lifeless planet wandering through space denounces all prior activity vain.

Praise be to God who has penetrated death’s cruel barrier! Because of Christ’s resurrection, our activity is not merely rearranging chairs on a sinking ship. What we do now can make a difference for eternity. God enables meaning to flood into our lives.

If it were not for God raising his Son and through him offering life to us, our lives would be a bleak existence.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They have two boys attending university.

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