Yesterday The Smithsonian blog posted a fascinating/terrifying article titled, “The Worst Shark Attack in History.” It describes the plight of the men who were on the USS Indianapolis when it was attacked and sunk on July 29, 1945.
Long story short, 1,196 men were aboard the ship. 900 of them made it into the water alive after the ship sank. By the time they were rescued four days later, only 317 men remained. For four days those men bobbed in the ocean and watched friends get picked off by sharks, all the while terrified that they’d be next.
Horrific, nightmarish stuff. But let me quote two sentences from this article that have deeply profound implications for you and I today. “In the meantime, the Indianapolis survivors learned that they had the best odds in a group, and ideally in the center of the group. The men on the margins or, worse, alone, were the most susceptible to the sharks.”
Did you catch that? The men who survived that shark attack were the ones who stayed together and placed themselves in the center of groups. The ones who went off on their own or stayed at the margins of the groups died. Think about that. I won’t insult your intelligence by pointing out the obvious parallel to life in the church (okay, I actually just did point out the parallel, but I won’t belabor it).
Please ask yourself, “Am I swimming on my own, at the margins, or in the center of the group?” Ask yourself if you’ve positioned yourself in a place of safety or peril. Please don’t overestimate your own ability to sustain a shark attack on your own. And consider humbly making some changes to your life if you need to.
And if you find yourself adrift at sea, scared of the sharks and not sure what to do, may I speak a specific word of encouragement to you? There’s plenty of room in the center of this group that I’m bobbing with. We’d love to include you. And if it’s not geographically possible for you to bob along with us in our little group in Milwaukee, then by all means find a group of faithful bobbers in your city.
DISCLAIMER: Okay, so having just read the above post, I realize that if you push this analogy too far, and if you don’t know me personally, you might think that I think that Christians are a bunch of paranoid killjoys huddled together and constantly worried about being devoured by large toothy predators. That’s not how I envision the Christian life!!
Don’t overanalyze the analogy. All I’m sayin’ is that fellowship, real fellowship, the kind where you’re actually sharing your life together and not just occasionally hangin’ out, is a huge component of the Christian life. It’s a source of joy, strength, comfort and stability. And we forsake that to our own peril. That’s all. I just thought the shark attack thing was a powerful illustration of that point.