Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Worth of One.

I watched a film last night called “The Endurance.” I’d read the book by the same title several years back. For some reason, I was on a run of reading about ships of all kinds from whalers to expeditions to “The Perfect Storm.”

I’ve always been sort of a water person. For several years, I owned a fishing boat and enjoyed being on the water even if the fish weren’t biting. They (you know who “they” are) told me that the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. The day I sold it was a good day but also a little sad. Ultimately, it spent most of it’s life, near the end, sitting in my garage – batteries drying up and dying, gaskets and rubber molding cracking, dust covering it’s beautiful red and black paint.

This thing was fast. It looked fast sitting still in the water. There was a two hundred horsepower outboard on the back that was happy going 70 miles per hour or idling at a crawl but not much in between. I tried to pull my kids on skis once not realizing that 45 mph made the motor groan as it didn’t get the boat up out of the water where it could run as it was made to run - and that was a little too fast for teenagers skiing. Man, when they fell, they skipped like rocks on glassy water. It was really hysterica….I mean, it was horrible to watch.

I can spend hours sitting near the ocean, the gulf or, like yesterday, Lake Livingston near Houston. I don’t consider it wasted time.

In 1914, Sir Earnest Shackleton set off on an expedition with the goal of crossing Antarctica. The crew of 27 men were lured into this dramatic and exciting prospect by an ad that read:



OK…Where do I sign, Ernie?

Early in their journey, the ship, The Endurance, was stranded in an inescapable ice pack. What followed was a battle for survival. As the ship was hopelessly wedged into the ice, the crew settled in for the 7 month wait for winter to pass.

At the coffee place the other day, you know the one, I was a little bothered when they told me it would take 3 or 4 minutes for them to brew some fresh decaf. THREE OR FOUR MINUTES!! OUTRAGEOUS!

Seven months? And that was without the complete assurance that all would be well after the thaw. I can’t go into the details of how these men coped with this dilemma but would recommend that you watch this movie. It’s inspiring. You might not book that vacation trip to Antarctica, but it is inspiring.

Ultimately, the crew and it’s leadership abandoned all hope of accomplishing their goal of crossing the continent. Now, the target was survival. Their leader, Sir Ernest, carefully monitored the morale of his men, instituted strict standards of rationing food and supplies and made decisions almost completely without emotion. His attitude was, “This is the hand we’re dealt.”

On one particular night, while the entire crew was camped on an ice pack, a crack developed and one man, sleeping bag and all, went into the frigid water. Knowing that within minutes he’d be dead, Shackleton pulled him out and saved his life. While the survivor was thankful and glad to be alive, his only regret was that his store of tobacco was now at the bottom of the sea.

When supplies were passed out, knowing that their only hope was to trek the ice back to civilization, lots were drawn for the limited number of fur sleeping bags. To the crews quiet amazement, Shackleton and the others in leadership all drew the wool sleeping bags, leaving the warmer fur bags for the crew.

Ernest Shackleton put himself at great risk to make sure every single one of his party got home. When, in the final weeks, Shackleton and a small portion of the party made their way in a 20 foot boat to try and find help, leaving 8 men on Elephant Island, the odds seemed insurmountable. When they finally procured a large enough ship and crew to return to the island to rescue the remaining men, they approached and saw that all 8 were still alive. They had been waiting for ten weeks to be rescued - not even knowing if their captain and comrades had survived the trip for help in one of the most dangerous oceans on the planet.

These were not necessarily important men. They were, to some degree, misfits and hardened sailors looking for adventure. Leaving home and family for, what turned out to be, almost two years, wouldn’t be an option for just anyone.

They did not know fame or glory or wealth. What did they contribute to the betterment of the world?

Yet, when all seemed lost, Shackleton risked everything to save them . . . all of them . . . every single one of them. After abandoning his dream to cross Antarctica, the thing that drove him, more than anything else, was his desire to return his men to their homes and families.

Such regard for life. Such value in every soul. Even those that seemed to be simply ordinary.

Easter is coming.

The inexplicable sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Only Son, for, not only the gifted, the special, the noble and upright, but for the ordinary, the typical, the fallen, the hopeless.

God, finding value in every single one of us . . . in you. You were worth the search. You were worth dying for.

Not just a sacrifice of a mere mortal. The Blood of an Innocent shed for the forgiveness of sin.

Mine . . . yours.

“Thank you.”



Binarypc said...

You should really consider starting an official facebook fan-page! Over 200 million people on facebook & lots of Christians!

Eric of buckhorn said...

hi, i am sorry to sound goofy, this is my first ever real like blog answer, but i am too curious to pass this up. Wayne, ive had a number of amazing "blessings" that revolved around some of your songs, and i d love to share them with you. how can i do this? thank you, eric

Ralph said...

Hello, Wayne.

SInce becoming a Christian in 1980 while in graduate school at USC, you have been a faithful companion. I appreciate and maybe marvel a bit at how open you have been to giving people a look at God through your life. There's a cost to that--thank you.

I'd like to give you a bit of my own open walk with the Lord, if that's alright with you. I would like to send you my recently published book, "Better Off Than You Think" (Evangel Publishing). I think you would like it, and, actually, you're in it. If you'd like it, tell me how I can send it to you.

If you'd like to do a little pre-navigation before saying, "Sure", go to You can find out who I am and what I'm about at that site.

And if I don't hear from you, well, God speed. I like what you do, and I like you.

Ralph Harris
LifeCourse Ministries