Tuesday, August 12, 2003
It was the largest oil spill in American history - and it was, in a sense, largely the fault of one man. The tanker Exxon Valdez, remember, ran aground on a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. The resulting oil spill did incalculable damage to the local fishing industry, to the environment in that very majestic piece of America, and to a lot of wildlife. The Commander of the Coast Guard said the passage there is ten miles across. He said, "So wide, your children could pilot a tanker through there!" So how did it happen? Well, an unlicensed third-mate was on the bridge that day, piloting the vessel. He was where the captain should have been. The captain was down below! That disaster happened because the man who should have been on the bridge wasn't!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When The Captain is Not at the Helm."
In our word for today from the Word of God, we see what happens when the captain of a family forfeits the helm. As we look at the story in Genesis 16:1, remember that God has promised the captain of this family, Abram, that he and his wife Sarai are going to miraculously have a son in their old age. A son from whom a nation will come, and the son who they have been waiting for a while.
"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, 'The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said."
Well, in essence, the captain of this family abandoned the helm and he let his wife call the shots. Thus, Ishmael was conceived and born - and from him, the Arabic people in the world today. Thirteen years later, elderly Sarai is miraculously pregnant (just as predicted) with Isaac, the child God promised in His time -- the child from whom the Jews have come. The result of Abram's forfeiture of leadership: bitter wars in his own family, and throughout the centuries and into our world today.
There is a Biblical principle underscored in this negative example from scripture and it's this -- the buck for the family stops with the man. You can see it in Ephesians 5 where the husband is portrayed as the Christ-figure in the family, who leads with self-sacrificing love. You can see it in the Garden of Eden when God holds Adam responsible for the sin his wife initiated. You can see it when Sarah laughs at God's promise of a son, and God comes asking Abram why his wife reacted in unbelief.
When you stand before the Lord, you can be sure who the Lord will ask about what happened in your family - the husband, the father, the captain. In our world, a lot of families are drifting because the captain is down below, forfeiting the leadership God insists He is responsible for.
If you're the man of the family, take stock: Are you taking the lead in keeping your family focused on the Lord? Are you leading your family in making decisions, or are you avoiding the tough choices? Are you facing the fact that many of the things that frustrate you in your wife may be because of needs you're not meeting? In family finances, in decision-making, in spiritual things, in keeping communication going - God says the husband, the Dad, is the captain.
When the captain is not at the helm - families go aground, and the results are very costly.