The recent movie The Finest Hours tells the story of the rescue of the crew of the S.S. Pendleton, a T2-type tanker that split in half off of the coast of Massachusetts on February 18, 1952. Caught in a nor’easter, the Pendleton was, ironically, one of two tankers that split in half on that day, within 20 miles of each other (the other ship being the S.S. Fort Mercer).
The rescue of the crew from the stern section of the Pendleton is still considered to be among the greatest of rescues by the United States Coast Guard, as thirty-two crew members of the tanker were saved by a four-man crew on a small Coast Guard lifeboat that was only rated to carry 12 people, including the crew. Unfortunately, nine of the Pendleton crew were lost; eight when the bow of the ship sank almost immediately after the initial break, and one man when, after helping his shipmates to safety, was struck in the head when a wave crashed into the lifeboat.
So while this story is just one more example of the bravery of our men and women in service, and is a testament to the courage and determination of the human spirit, there is another lesson that lies “below the surface”… and nine months before.
It was in July 1951 that the Pendleton ran aground on the Hudson River. The point at which the tanker ran aground was the same area where the ship broke in half. Could it be coincidence, or could it be that, when the ship ran aground, that area of the hull was structurally compromised, just waiting for a catastrophic event, such as happened on February 18, 1952?
And while the S.S. Pendleton has passed into history,
the reality of this lesson has not.
Every day, we pass by people who have been damaged by events, actions, and even words. While they put on a smile, the damage can run deep “below the surface”, just waiting for that one catastrophic event to occur that pushes them off the perilous safety of the shoals, lost to the deep of hopelessness, despair, and even death. Sometimes the damage is hard to recognize, because we have become a society comfortable with masks, and rarely look beyond the superficial. We don’t see the weight of the burdens that are dragging our family, friends, and neighbors to the depths.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. ~ John 10:10
Jesus wants us to abide in the safety of His love. He wants us let go of the weight of sin, pain, and anger that are dragging us to the depths. He wants us to have the faith to trust in Him through the storms of life, assured that He will see us through to safety.
So what are YOUR Finest Hours? Will it be letting go of “the sin that so easily besets” you (Heb. 12:1) and trusting Jesus? Will it be keeping watch along the coastline of humanity, and throwing a lifeline to someone who is drowning in misery and hopelessness?
The motto of the U.S. Coast Guard is “semper paratus“, Latin for “always ready“.
Are you ready to be that one when the Commander calls? Are you ready for your Finest Hours?