As I write this it’s the day after the fire in Notre Dame cathedral and also ‘Holy Week’ (ie the week before Easter Sunday). Whatever your views on Notre Dame being just a building and the potential rebuild costs, it appears that there were some brave firefighters who were involved in the operation to save the building. It reminds me of an incident that occurred when I was part of the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) team (we were a bit like OFSTED for ships ..). We were doing the initial baseline checks (called a Staff Sea Check) on a warship from a foreign navy (no names no pack drill). Half way through the days serials and inspections with 60 + inspecting team on board, there was a fire alarm in the main engine room. All the orders and commands coming over the main broadcast were not in English except the standard ‘FOST Staff muster on the Flight Deck’. All our team however were quickly accounted for except two Marine Engineering (ME) Warrant Officers. We all assumed that they were assisting with the incident.
The fire was quickly extinguished and we all went back to the mess for a brew and the 2 ME Warrant Officers joined us. It turned out they had not been ‘assisting’ with the incident but dealing with the whole thing on their own. The ships staff had abandoned the engine room at the first hint of smoke / fire and left the RN WOs to deal with it.
In the week before he died Jesus was with a bunch of mates who knew him well. These were oppos who had sworn that they would stick with him, even die with him, but when the proverbial hit the fan they legged it and left him all alone. They left him to walk the final days of his life on earth totally alone. The Bible tells us that after the resurrection (ie once he had come back to life, which is the miracle at the very heart of the Easter and thus the whole Christian story) he did not rip his mates heads off for abandoning him! He actually forgave them and then trained / encouraged and equipped them to carry on with the task that he had chosen them for. That task being to tell the story of his life, death and resurrection and the hope that it brings to all humankind.
Back to our two friendly FOST Warrant Officers. I am not going to pretend that their initial reaction on seeing the ships company members who had thinned out from the engine space was the same as that of Jesus! They did not instantly forgive them. In fact the opposite … however they did then begin to teach / train / equip and encourage them how to deal with incidents in the correct way and to pass that information onto their shipmates.
If you are a Christian and feel that you have abandoned Jesus, just remember how Jesus forgave his mates and then used them to turn the world upside down. He doesn’t hold any grudges .. he can use you too in this amazing mission to bring hope to a hurting world. And if you don’t know him at all, have never given your life to him and felt that forgiveness, there is no time like the present to start again … you never know when the engine room may catch fire again …
Image Credit: Noah Silliman