Repost: The Suddenness of a Calamity

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

On December 14, 1996 a tragedy occurred on the Mississippi River in New Orleans which has now been pretty much forgotten. It’s the kind of thing you want to forget about; it’s the kind of thing that should never be forgotten.

The incident occurred when a 735 foot long bulk cargo ship, the Bright Field, which was fully loaded with grain and heading down the river, lost power. The engines just stopped and wouldn’t restart. Momentum carried this freighter, which was longer than two football fields, in the direction it was headed when the engines stopped. It was headed toward a disaster. In its path were two different ships that were docked at a wharf along the river, the Riverfront Shopping Mall that was between the ships, and a Hilton Hotel that was next to the mall. Both ships were full of passengers and the mall had an estimated 1000 shoppers at the time. At this point, the 70,000 ton freighter was a runaway train.

The ship ended up crashing into the wharf at the site of the mall, taking out about 15 different shops and restaurants. While dozens of people were injured, miraculously, no one was killed. When the dust had settled, the damage to both the ship and the mall totaled in the millions of dollars.

As you can imagine, immediately afterward the Coast Guard launched an investigation into the incident. When the findings of the investigation were released, a very disturbing truth was revealed. Let me break it down this way, the accident happened because the engine shut down; the engine shut down because of low oil pressure; the low oil pressure occurred because of a clogged oil filter; the clogged oil filter occurred because no one bothered to check or replace it. In other words… the crash occurred simply because of failed maintenance.

A “sudden disaster” caused by months and months of neglect.

That’s so often how it happens though, isn’t it?

Out of nowhere, your spouse just gets up and leaves you. With no warning you just lost your job. Without seeing it coming, you just ended up in an affair.

All of the sudden, calamity strikes.

Except calamity seldom strikes suddenly.

It can seem sudden. We can fail to expect it. We can be shocked by it. But seldom does it “just happen”.

Let me remind you of the words of Proverbs 4:23:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Translation: maintain your heart. Your life will go as your heart goes. Watch the condition of your heart carefully.

Keep the filter on your heart clean!

All of this reminds me of an old Fram oil filter TV commercial. It had a very memorable tag line spoken by a mechanic giving you advice… “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” In other words, a few dollars invested in a filter now will prevent many dollars of damage to your engine later. Your choice.

So… what’s the condition of the filter of your heart? What are you letting in? What contaminates have come to reside there? What thought or object that is foreign to God have you convinced yourself belongs there?

Before a disaster “suddenly” occurs in your life, give it a good look over. Is now the time to make a change? You only have one heart… take good care of it!

(BTW… if you are interested in seeing a Youtube documentary on the crash of the Bright Field, you can view it here)

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Repost: The Suddenness of a Calamity

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