Thursday, February 16, 2006

Everything Is Under Control

This particular news item has been overshadowed by the Muslim “cartoon protests,” the vice president’s hunting accident, and the Winter Olympics, but a couple of weeks ago there was a ferry sinking (caused by a fire in the vehicle parking bay) off the Saudi Arabian coast that took the lives of hundreds of men, women and children. One newspaper account in particular caught my attention (“Ferry disaster tales fuel anger”; Miriam Fam, AP, 2/4/06).

It seems that many more peoples’ lives could have been saved if the crew and passengers had taken purposeful action once the fire started on board. But the message the crew members repeatedly gave to the passengers was, “Everything is under control.” One Egyptian passenger, speaking from a hospital bed afterwards, recalled that some crew members even discouraged passengers from putting on life jackets “so as not to cause the women and children to panic.”

This is the line in the news article that struck me: “The accounts of delay and denial have enraged those who lost friends and relatives when the ship sank…”

Delay and denial. The stars and stripes of fear and failure. The alpha and omega of malaise and misery. The heads and tails of stagnation and sorrow.

How often we see this! The young couple keeps spending more than they earn, insisting on a lifestyle build on credit card debt, auto payments, and a stiff mortgage, digging themselves deeper and deeper. But neither will address it. If they don’t talk about it then maybe it doesn’t exist! (Denial). Shouldn’t they change their habits? Maybe next year. (Delay). La di da.

How often we see this! The married couple whose relationship is slowly growing stale and lifeless, like a tire with a slow leak. But there’s so much going on: jobs, kids, church (!), finances. Let’s just pretend we don’t see the warning signs (Denial). I’ll wait until he/she addresses it (Delay).

How often we see this! His blood pressure and weight is way too high. He’s read the warnings in the health articles. His doctor has mentioned it. But hey, it could be a lot worse, right? (Denial). Maybe I’ll start exercising and eating right some day (Delay).

“Survivors said that throughout the ordeal, the crew had one message: ‘Everything is under control.’ But it wasn’t. When the end came, the ship sank in minutes, said Abdul Hakim. He and others were swept off the deck and into the water as if skidding down a giant slide.” (Miriam Fam, AP).

I remember seeing a sign in a chiropractor’s office when I was living in Connecticut and trying to treat a shoulder injury. The sign said something like this: The Six Most Dangerous Words: Maybe… It…Will…Just…Go…Away.

Friends, sometimes it does but most of the time it doesn’t. It needs to be addressed. It needs to be faced. And listen closely: There is great FREEDOM in facing it, in finally naming the problem and taking the first step(s) to address it. The truth will indeed set you free (John 8:32). Isn’t it significant that the first of the Twelve Steps is acknowledging you have a problem? The second and third are acknowledging there is a God who cares and invoking his strength in addressing the problem. The fourth is conducting a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” This is called FACING THE FACTS. It is so powerful.

So, how are things on your ship?


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