Just over 108 years ago the greatest steamship ever built at the time sunk after striking an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic.
13 years before the Titanic was built a man called Morgan Robertson had a dream where he saw a ship sink. He named the ship in his dream the “Titan”. He later wrote a book- “The Wreck of the Titan”- detailing what he saw. In his dream he saw a ship with a length of 800 feet and a width of 90 feet with a capacity of 3,000 passengers set off to sail in April from New York to London, but in the dream it sank. It was this fictitious ship that he named the “Titan”.
13 years later the Titanic was built. It had a length of 882 feet, a width of 92.5 feet and a capacity of 3,300. It sank on its maiden voyage in April from Southampton to New York.
There is no evidence that the designers of the Titanic had ever seen or read “the Wreck of the Titan”, and they obviously were not planning on building a ship to fail.
The RMS Titanic belonged to the White Star Line, a luxury cruise steamship company that was in hot competition with another luxury cruise company named Cunard.
Both the “White Star Line” which owned the RMS Titanic and “Cunard” were British firms.
The builders of the Titanic were responding to the dominance of 2 of Cunard’s luxury steamships when they built the behemoth of beauty called the Titanic in 2 years of non-stop engineering work 24 hours everyday.
It was such a feat they tagged the ship “unsinkable”, largely because of 15 watertight bulkhead compartments designed into the Titanic.
In fact one of the engineers is said to have remarked that even God could not sink it.
Yet this engineering marvel that was supposedly unsinkable sank four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, with 2,240 passengers and crew members on board, the RMS Titanic sank thousands of feet into the Atlantic Ocean killing over 1,500 people.
A lookout on the Titanic saw an iceberg at about 11:30pm and rang a warning bell, as the engines were reversed and the ship turned it grazed the iceberg about 10 minutes later (11:40pm) on the night of April 14, 1912.
None of them knew a 300 foot gash had just been created under the ship’s waterline.
Just under 3 hours later the ship broke in two halves at around 2:20am on April 15 and sunk.
When the Titanic was hit hard & started sinking it began sending out distress signals.
There were 3 ships that received the signals.
The first ship was known as the SS Admiral Sampson.
The SS Admiral Sampson was the closest to the RMS Titanic. It was said to be just 7 miles away.
The crew saw the white flares from the Titanic signaling danger and heard a call for help, but because they had been hunting seals illegally and didn’t want to be caught, they turned and went the opposite direction- away from Titanic.
The second ship was the SS Californian.
The SS Californian was said to be just 14 miles away from the RMS Titanic, but it was surrounded by ice fields. When the captain looked out and saw the white flares, but also saw that the conditions weren’t favourable as it was dark and icebergs loomed around, he decided to go back to bed and wait until morning. The crew tried to convince themselves that nothing was happening.
Early in the morning, at around 05:30, the wireless operator was awakened. He tried to communicate with the ship, but got the sad news instead – the RMS Titanic had sunk.
The third ship was the RMS Carpathia which belonged to the rival company- Cunard.
The RMS Carpathia was just over 58 miles away from the Titanic and was headed in a southern direction when they heard the distress cries over the radio. The captain of this ship knelt down, prayed to God for direction, then turned the ship around and went full steam through fields of icebergs.
It would take her approximately three and a half hours to arrive at the position of the RMS Titanic’s final distress call.
It is said that as Captain Arthur Rostron sped up his nine-year-old ship the ship managed 17 knots, which far surpassed her quoted top speed while making their way to the last known coordinates of the Titanic.
Meanwhile, Rostron’s crew kept busy making preparations to receive the surviving passengers and to ensure the rescue operation could be both as successful and as swift as possible.
The RMS Carpathia arrived in the area at approximately 3:30am.
This was the ship that saved the 706 survivors of the Titanic.
The remaining 1,517 souls were consumed by a “watery grave”.
It is said that if the other two ships had responded all the people on-board the “Titanic” could have been saved.
When the captain looked back at the ice fields they had come through, he said; “someone else’s hands must have been at the helm of this ship.”
The Titanic sent distress signals to multiple ships shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912. Only the farthest ship- the “RMS Carpathia” arrived on the scene and rounded up the 706 survivors of the Titanic who were able to make it out on the lifeboats.
There are several lessons I gleaned from this story. I will point out just three.
The first one is the pattern and structure God set to ensure that nothing takes everyone by surprise. He put out the script He designed, and placed it in the open for anyone who wants to follow it to see it very clearly.
Just like the wrecking of a cruise liner was revealed in such frightening and precise detail to Mr. Robertson there is One who has all the details of our lives, and if we choose to follow His direction He will guide us away from all the icebergs designed to sink the ships that we call our lives.
The second point I will speak of is the vanity of all things material. The magnificent Titanic which was so beautiful and majestic it was termed “unsinkable” is thousands of feet at the bottom of the ocean, and according to marine scientists will completely disappear by 2030 because of a rare type of bacteria that is eating out the hulk of the ship.
When I think about this I ask myself what material thing is worth dying for.
The last thing I will focus on is the one I got from what I believe these ships symbolize.
The first ship, the SS Admiral Sampson, for me symbolises those who are just beside us but are not there for the right reasons. They are those who are very close in proximity but very far away in heart. They are consumed with themselves and are interested in others primarily for what they can get from them.
If you experience a wreck in your finances, marriage, business or any other signficant part of your life they are the ones that will pick you off like a hyena.
You might have some “friends”, relatives, and associates like that.
The second ship, the SS Californian, is better than the first. The crew is not as close to you as the first- and they may not even pretend to be.
But they still are close enough to produce some significance in your life- if they choose to.
This ship for me represents those people who don’t place you high on their list of priorities. When there is an opportunity to add proper value they will say, “I can’t do anything now. There are many more important things I must do and so the conditions aren’t right to provide the assistance you need at present.”
These are people who will not put themselves through an inconvenience even if your life depended on it.
The last ship- the RMS Carpathia belonged to a rival company we could say in whose interests it was for the Titanic to sink. It was also the farthest out, yet it was the one that made that journey through perilous waters to rescue those it could from the Titanic.
There are people in life you never expected anything from, but in His bid to show you not to count on human beings God will use these very unlikely sources to bless you sometimes.
The essence of this is twofold- to get you to always focus on Him, and to let you see that everything you have came from Him and He can require you to use them to bless who He chooses- whether you like them or not.
This is what we should all aim to be. The Lord Jesus expects us to do good to all men, and He specifically stated we were to “love your enemies, do good to those that respectfully use you, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Nobody else in this universe apart from Him could ever have given such a command nor supplied the ability to make it possible.
We all have just one shot at life. Nobody knows for sure when his shot will expire. What will we have to say about what we did with ours when we stand before the Owner of that life- the One who gave it to us to steward?
Think about that carefully.