Published April 17, 2012

Paul's Epistle...

This past Sunday, as surely you have been reminded, marked the centenary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Some 1,517 people perished in that unprecedented calamity that, for whatever reason, is still emotionally remembered a century later.

As I thought about that event, the old hymn came to mind that begins, "I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more...." The lyrics of that hymn, called "Love Lifted Me," were penned by James Rowe. And I was surprised to find out there were some interesting coincidences that tied him to the Titanic.

James Rowe, in fact, wrote the song in 1912 – the same year the Titanic sank. Although he lived in Albany, New York, he had been born in Horrabridge, Devonshire, England, just about 120 miles down the road from Southampton, England, the departure point for the Titanic on its fateful voyage.

Before leaving Britain to emigrate to the United States, Rowe worked for a time for the Irish government, not far from where the Titanic was built in Belfast.

I have been unable to find any reference to the connection the Titanic tragedy may have had to the writing of the song, but, assuming the hymn was written by Rowe during the months following the sinking, that event must have impacted him greatly. One supposes that he, himself, had sailed across the Atlantic when he emigrated to the States, so he could vividly picture in his mind the horror as the Titanic slid beneath the icy waves.

Rowe didn't reference that event directly. Instead, he built his song on the account in Matthew 14 where Jesus' disciples – out on the water in a small boat – suddenly saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. Peter cried out, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." The Lord did, and Peter got out of the boat and began walking toward Jesus – for a time. But then, seeing the waves, he began to sink. Peter cried to the Lord to save him. Jesus reached down His hand and did just that.

"But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I."

Each of us is a little like the Titanic. We've chosen to ignore clear warnings. We've arrogantly plunged ahead with our lives — and, as a result, have struck "icebergs" in our lives. We haven't taken advantage of the "lifeboat" available to us. We have each been "sinking deep in sin – sinking to rise no more."

In matters of salvation, just as it was with the Titanic, not everyone will be saved. But, unlike the terror during the sinking of the Titanic, all who call upon the Lord will be saved. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). And, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).

"Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He's the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today."

"Lord, thank you for saving us. When we cried out to you for salvation, You reached down your nail-scarred hand and took hold – and promised never to let go!"

- Paul

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