The story of the four men involved in the boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Coast is sad and shocking. Three of the men, two of them NFL players, were lost at sea. They had taken off their life jackets, and one of them tried to swim to safety.
In respect for these men and their families, I’m avoiding making any judgments on their thoughts or actions. The story itself – the mere circumstances – brings to mind some hard questions about my own spirituality.
Think about it this way. These were strong, healthy men, two of whom were known for their athletic prowess. In a society in which professional athletes are held up as heroes and role models, one would think that the football players would have been a sure bet for survival. Isn’t that what we see in the movies? The heroes always win?
Spirituality can be like that, too. Those of us with spiritual prowess often appear invincible to ourselves and others. The self-invincibility is the most dangerous. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that our spiritual exercise and training will make us immune from being lost at sea. We’re tough. We can handle anything, right? And then when we’re faced with a real crisis, we succumb to hopelessness, take off our life jackets and slip out to sea.
The sole survivor of the accident never took his life jacket off. He clung to that hope and hence it saved his life. We Christians have hope. It’s Christ himself. He’s the spiritual life jacket that will keep us from slipping out to sea. With Him, we’re stronger than we hope. Without Him, we’re weaker than we think.