Summary: Seeking restoration in an urgent and repentive way is a message that is not taught very often today!
One of the stories that is rarely told in regards to the Titanic is the story of John Harper. I guess it would not be dramatic enough for Hollywood! Perhaps there isn’t enough promiscuity or infamy in his story. Harper was born into a Christian family in May of 1872. He became a Christian at 13 and started preaching at 17. At the young age of 23 he founded a church, today known as Harper Memorial in London, England, which started with 25 members and grew to 500 by the time he left in his mid 30’s.
In 1912 Harper was called to pastor Moody Church in Chicago, and was in transit on the Titanic with his 6-year-old daughter. After the ship struck the iceberg and began to sink, he got his daughter into a lifeboat but apparently made no effort to follow her. Instead, he ran through the ship yelling, “Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!” Survivors report that he than began witnessing to anyone who would listen. He continued presenting the gospel even after he was forced into the icy waters and was seen clinging to a piece of wreckage.
Harper’s final moments in life were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, by a man who said: I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper on a piece of wreckage, near me. “Man” he said, “are you saved?” “No,” I said, “I am not.” He replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The waves then took him away, but later brought him back and he said, “Are you saved now?” “No,” I said, “I cannot honestly say that I am.” Harper again said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” and shortly thereafter he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with miles of water under me, I believed. I believe I am John Harper’s last convert, one of only six people picked out of the water by lifeboats, the other 1,522, including Harper, were left to die.
As a kid growing up, I never experienced much pain; I had a few small broken bones. One of the worst things was getting hit by a fastball in college and I ended up with a knot half the size of the ball. Now my sister Barb, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. She seemed to get injured every other week (of course that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not that far from the truth). I am seven years older than Barb and her twin sister Anita and I remember how they both wanted to hang-out with their older brother. Of course, he didn’t want a couple of four year olds hanging around. One day I tried to run away from Barb! She followed me as best she could and we both reached the back door at about the same time. I pushed Barb back a bit and entered quickly and slammed the door.
Well, you guessed it, the door caught her small hand trying to get into the house and cut off the tip of one of her fingers. A small strip of skin kept the tip from falling to the ground and Barb, along with mom and dad, spent a large part of the day in the emergency room having the finger reattached. She still has the scar today to prove it, along with a birthmark that at one time was very pronounced, and another scar on her knee from surgery. Today she is a candidate for knee replacement at a young age. I guess I wasn’t the last person to injure Barb! However, the scars and memories of the damage I did will never completely leave me. I suspect that all those scars won’t leave Barb also, just watch her walk and you can see her pain.
Barb would be the first to tell you how much a wound in your body hurts. It’s pain that the Son of God understands all too well. Jesus refers to all of us in His Church as His “body” on earth. And when there’s a hurt, a wound, or whatever you call it, He feels the pain. Ephesians 4: 1-3, notes “1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” New International Version
I know what you are thinking, I can’t forgive that person. They way they treated me! They reminded me of a devil. They hurt my reputation and I can’t, no I won’t forgive them. But if you meditate on the scripture in Ephesians doesn’t it call each of us to avoid those painful breaks by putting the other person’s interests first, patiently bearing with and choosing to overlook slights, hassles, and shortcomings? Maybe you are in the middle of a break in Christ’s body right now. If there is something that you can do…do it right now before the Titanic sinks! Please do whatever it takes because it is not only hurting your Savior but it is hurting you and the other people involved. In truth, the scar that Barb has serves as a reminder of the wound that I did to her but the scar also serves as a reminder of Jesus. His scars make it possible to live a life worthy of the calling towards humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing one another in love. Only in Jesus, can we make EVERY effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.