Shipwrecked: Finding Salvation in Humiliation

I think I might end up writing a post in response to each chapter I read of Jonathan Martin’s How to Survive a Shipwreck. The book is that thought-provoking and compelling. Here’s the latest passage to ponder.

“What if God doesn’t choose to save us in spite of our failures, losses, and embarrassments, but precisely through them? What if it is not avoiding falling that strengthens our faith, but the falling itself? Before the shipwreck, we maintain illusions of our control. So long as we still think we are in charge of our lives, there is no space for God- we are still clinging to life. It is only when our hands are too weak to cling to life anymore- because of sickness, death, addiction, failure- that we can find life. This is what Jesus means when he says we have to lose our lives to find them. That’s not a metaphor for ‘giving up a lot to follow Jesus.’ It’s not a metaphor for anything. It’s a way of saying what it sounds like: The only way to find God is through losing.”

When I was a new Christian 15 years ago, I was on fire for God. What new believer isn’t? That continued into college when I was surrounded and supported by a large body of believers at a university that had a tremendous faithful population for its size.

Then I graduated from college and started my career. This was when I essentially became an adult for real- married, with a steady paycheck from a well-paying job. I felt I was in control of my own life for the first time. I didn’t consciously intend to ignore God, it just happened as a slow decline over a long period of time. I was clinging to the life I had with everything I had.

Then came my shipwreck. I couldn’t hold on to the boat anymore, so I fell overboard and was drowning. I no longer had control, had nothing to cling to, was utterly humiliated by my lack of control. And it was there that I found God waiting for me. I was given new life through losing what I knew of my old life from before the shipwreck. It was time for me to let go of my ego amidst the chaos, let my soul be liberated, and let someone outside of me do the saving.

“We were never meant to recover from our shipwrecks alone. We were never meant to stage our brilliant comeback, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, get ourselves unstuck without any help. And the truth is, it’s better this way.”

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