After lots of thought and prayer, I texted my Sunday School last week. For one Sunday, we would be detouring from our regular study (Becoming Your Spouse’s Better Half). Instead, we would be comparing the Costa Concordia to our “relation-SHIP” with our spouse. One guy texted me back: “Why?”
I explained it all Sunday in class: God often uses current events to teach age old lessons. By reviewing what happened with the shipwrecked Costa Concordia, we can evaluate our relation-SHIP, make adjustments if needed, and even make a plan for emergencies. I’ll give you the overview.
The Costa Concordia began its fateful journey on Friday, January 13, 2012. Each couple told when their relation-SHIP began- their wedding date.
The Costa Concordia’s trip started at the Italian port of Civitavecchia (Rome). Everyone shared where they were married.
Some cruise lines state that a passenger is allowed up to 200 lbs. of personal luggage. (Holy Smokes!) If you fly to the port of embarkation, you must follow restrictions of airlines. Most allow only two 50-lb bags per person. Sometimes we bring a lot of baggage with us into marriage! The way we were raised, traditions, hurts, etc. can take up a lot of room in our relation-SHIP.
We boarded the SHIP (just like the passengers of the Concordia), got settled in, and began the journey with new adventures and new destinations! Sunday School couples dished about the first fun thing they did together. (I got lots of good stories for future teasing.)
But then…a relation-SHIP may sail into rough waters. The question: What was one of the first problems you had as a couple? Money-or lack thereof, personality, and being young and stupid were a few of the answers.
The Costa Concordia set sail with big plans. No doubt the passengers did, too. One couple from Minnesota was finally able to go. They had raised their children and gotten them all through college. They had helped with their grandchildren and served at their church. Finally after retiring, they decided it was time to realize their dream. They were scheduled for a 16-day cruise. A few hours after it departed, the Concordia ran aground as it passed the island of Giglio. The couple is still missing.
Life was good. It seemed like smooth sailing. You could live forever! Then suddenly…you hit a really tough time that caused damage to your SHIP.
“Too close to trouble.” It has been reported that the captain took the ship close to shore so the head-waiter could waive to his family. The waiter’s father said he had called and told them to be watching. (It wasn’t the first time it happened.) It was a risky thing to do. If this story is true, then the captain took risks that affected the lives of almost 4000 people who were on board the Costa Concordia. Seventeen are dead. Fifteen are still missing, including a 5-year old girl. The captain faces manslaughter charges!
“Danger! Danger!” As Christians, we must guard ourselves and our hearts! What are ways someone in a relation-SHIP can take risks? We discussed several things. Being self-absorbed and financial risks were mentioned. Emotional risks: getting too close to someone who is not our spouse and/or taking your spouse for granted. Spiritual risks: when we stop doing the things we KNOW are right (i.e. going to church, reading our Bible, praying, etc.)
We discussed “rocky times” in a relation-SHIP and then how we react during those times. We had three examples from the Concordia:
a. The captain, who jumped ship. Sometimes in a relation-SHIP, you may want to jump over the railing! You may be nauseous from the waves that are rocking your boat! But throwing in the towel won’t usually make things better.
b. The passengers who worked together and helped each other survive. TOGETHER they got to shore!
c. Those who drowned. Husbands AND wives can get overwhelmed by responsibilities and feel helpless. I couldn’t help thinking of drowning in debt.
Other reactions to problems: Panic, Blame and Doubt (Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda).
Act quickly! Some sources say there was a gap of 73 minutes from the time of the Concordia’s collision and the sounding of the alarm! When trouble comes, there is no time to lose! Don’t procrastinate! (I cried over this one. I saw the beautiful face of the little 5-year old who is still missing. Seventy-three minutes could have saved her life.)
Before closing, we read Jonah 1:4-16. The sailors (in Jonah 1) wanted to know who was to blame, tried to fix the problem on their own, and then after they had tried to do everything on their own…cried out to God. Ever been there?
Rocky times and storms are guaranteed in life. Most cruise liners go through emergency procedures before they leave port. It’s a good idea to have an emergency plan for when problems arise in relation-SHIPS, too.
Jonah 2:2 says: “In my distress I cried to the LORD and He answered me”. God is always ready to come to our aid. He is waiting to hear your MAYDAY! With Him, we can lock arms and hearts with our beloved and get safely to shore!