It’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with all things Titanic. I’m fascinated by the story, the tales, the ship, the survivors, the film, the myth, and the legend. Something about that ship — which sunk nearly 70 years before I was even born — is so intriguing to me.
And you can imagine that these past couple weeks I have had my full. You see, it was 100 years ago today in the early morning hours that the majestic Titanic met its tragic end in the icy Atlantic Ocean. And this centennial milestone is chock-full of Titanic-themed documentaries, articles, and the 3-D rerelease of James Cameron’s blockbuster movie. I’ve even been glued to my Twitter feed following @TitanicRealTime, a moment-by-moment series of updates as if they came from the ship itself — from the crew, from each separate class, from the captain, from the rescue ships. Fascinating.
What always gets me about this timeless tale is the absolute certainty of the ship’s immortality. The “unsinkable” ship, as it was coined, could not be stopped. It was the biggest, the fastest, the most luxurious, and the safest. Perhaps this was why the entire world watched in complete shock as the reports came in — TITANIC SINKS.
And there at the bottom of the ocean, more than 12,000 feet below the surface, lies what is left of the great, unsinkable ship. This week, with eyes wide open for fear of missing something amazing, I watched documentary after documentary about the Titanic. I studied photos of the great ship leaving port in Southampton, of the ship’s elegant interior, and of passengers — men, women and children. And I reveled in amazing video footage of the ship today, deteriorating and mysterious on the lonely ocean floor.
It got me thinking about the “unsinkable” things in my life, in our lives. Those things we take such pride in, those things we may even idolize. Relationships, family, careers, possessions, health — things we cherish, and things we’re sure we’ll never lose. But then, in a blaze of glory and despair, they’re gone. Like the great Titanic, our lives break in two, sinking horrifically to the sound of our screams and cries.
Your girlfriend cheated on you.
Your husband said he doesn’t love you anymore.
You lost your job.
Your bills are past due and your checking account is empty.
Your house is in foreclosure.
You dropped out of college.
Your car was repossessed.
Your father died.
Your teenager just said he hates you.
Your sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
And there you are, clinging to a piece of driftwood or a floating headboard, wondering how this could possibly have happened to you.
I wonder what the passengers in the lifeboats were thinking. They were the lucky ones — part of the 710 passengers who walked away with their lives that day. Tragically, there were not enough lifeboats to save all 2,223 on board. More tragically, many boats were frantically dropped from the doomed ship with room to spare. And as the lucky few rowed away from the grisly site, they heard the cries for help. Did they turn back? Did they pull anyone from the icy water? Did they care?
We may never know the answer to those questions. But today, looking at our “unsinkables” now laying in pieces deep below the surface, I wonder who will save us? Who will offer a hand?
For me, one of the most intriguing parts of this story is found in the shipwreck — in the treasures and tales that lie within that mangled beast. The footage of the wreck offers little glimpses — a white teacup, a woman’s boot, a gold chandelier, a picture frame. These memories are small reminders of the Titanic as it once was — beautiful, majestic, wonderful. And now, only after 100 years of emotional separation from the tragedy, can we finally ooh and aah as we watch in wonder.
It wasn’t always this way. When the shipwreck was first found in 1985, the discovery was witnessed by actual survivors, most likely still haunted by that fateful night. Many of them were younger than 20 years old when it happened, many were children — their destiny completely changed by a single iceberg. But now, after all the survivors have passed on, the world watches. The world reads. The world listens.
How long after the shipwreck in your life will you be able to finally live again? How long does it take to heal, to move on, to accept what happened? I don’t have answers to all that.
But I do know one thing for sure: God is the great redeemer — the one lifeboat that will always turn around to rescue you and me. He can take what is a shipwreck in our lives and turn it into something beautiful — even, and especially, when it seems impossible to us.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
You might not see it now, but there will come a day when you will find yourself dancing on the ocean floor, waltzing between chipped teacups and shattered chandeliers. You will remember the past — the memories, the hurt, the hopelessness — but you will live in the present — with grace, with joy, with hope.
We’re not unsinkable. But out of the depths of the darkest ocean we can rise — better for having failed, stronger for having survived. That, to me, is the true story of the Titanic.