The hazards of shopping at a mall. Let's see: overheating your credit card, pickpockets, an occasional mugging, being run into by a ship. Wait a minute! That is exactly what happened to about a thousand Christmas shoppers at the Riverwalk shopping complex in New Orleans. Navigating the most dangerous stretch of the Mississippi River near there, a freighter suddenly lost power. In or near its path were two cruises ships holding 1,700 people and a riverboat casino with 800 people on board. The potential was there for hundreds of fatalities. But the pilot of the freighter got his emergency horn wailing and that gave people on the ships and in the mall a warning. He dropped his anchors in a desperate attempt to at least slow the ship and somehow managed to steer without power between those three ships. Yes, the freighter plowed into the riverfront stretch of stores and restaurants, but because of how that pilot responded when things were out of control, the people were saved. Here was the amazing headline: "None Dead in New Orleans Accident."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Ship is Out of Control."
In that out-of-control moment, one man knew what really mattered - save the people. That is an important value any time the ship is out of control.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Acts 27. The ship that is carrying the Apostle Paul to Rome as a prisoner is essentially out of control. They've had two weeks of a violent storm that has battered him and the 276 people aboard, sweeping them across the Mediterranean. They don't know where they are, they are afraid they will be cast aground somewhere with many lives lost, if not everyone. Well, God appears to Paul with an important reminder of all that really matters in a situation like that. Paul reports to his fellow passengers. Here it is: "Last night and angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul...God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." From that moment on, Paul does whatever it will take to make sure no person is lost. The ship is going to be lost, but it's the people on the ship who really matter anyway.
That's important to keep in mind whenever your ship seems to be out of control. Like the pilot in that frightening moment on the Mississippi, save the people. Your "ship" could be your business, your project, your finances maybe it's your plans, your schedule is out of control, your responsibilities. Something in your life that is stressful, maybe in trouble, something that is getting out of control and that could even go aground. This is no time for panic, this is a time for right priorities. Protect the people from getting hurt. What happens to the ship is not nearly as important as what happens to the people.
It's easy to lose sight of that in a crisis. The crisis itself can consume you and cause you to actually neglect the people around you, even to take it out on the people around you. A crisis cannot leave your relationships the same as they were, it will either pull you closer together than you have ever been, or it's going to drive you farther apart. And which way it goes may depend largely on you and whether or not you put protecting the people above saving the ship.
This may be a scary time. A time when the ship is out of control and might even crash. Just remember your bottom line, choose the course that will save the people. Ships can be replaced, people can't.