Having once been on board a yacht that sank off Rottnest Island, I have a fascination with stories of boats that are lost at sea.
One of the most tragic is the sinking of yacht, “Coyote” in the North Atlantic in the 1990s. The midsized sailboat was state of the art in its design of the hull, the materials used and the technology available at the time.
Moreover, it was skippered by a highly experienced and respected yachtsman, Michael Plant, whose seafaring skills were said to be second to none. In the event that something went wrong, the yacht was fitted with the latest emergency position indicating radio beacon which via satellite would send four short single bursts that would give the yachts precise position.
However, eleven days into the voyage radio contact with the yacht was lost and eventually a search was launched. Several days later Coyote was found, upside down with no sign of Plant.
Later, investigations showed the yacht had sent out three radio distress emergency signals. To locate the boat four signals were required and so precious days were lost with rescuers not knowing where the yacht was located.
Questions abounded as to what exactly happened.
Yachting experts were much surprised that the yacht was found upside down in the water. Normally such a sophisticated yacht would right itself in a storm. The investigators came to the conclusion that the yacht sank primarily because, in the storm, there was not enough weight below the waterline.
This tragic story reminds me that we humans need spiritual substance, relational weight and reliable navigation beneath our lives to give us stability in the storms of life.
We live in a culture that tends to focus on what is above the surface; the sails, the rigging, the technology, while we tend to overlook what is below the waterline, our souls, and our spiritual ballast.
A story is told of Jesus with some of his disciples in a boat. A storm came without much warning and the disciples began to panic. Jesus, snoozing at the time, was awakened and remarkably brought calm and peace to the threatening waves and the anxious disciples.
Jesus had great depth in his relationship with God and great weight in his trust in God; this gave him strength, calm and courage when the storms threatened to overwhelm him.
Mature Christian spirituality, a life of prayer, worship and service, a growing passion to learn the way of Jesus, in word and deed, helps add weight below the waterline of life.
When it feels we are all at sea, and life is challenging and even dangerous, the skipper Jesus can give us the stability we need.
What is beneath your waterline?
Rev Steve Francis