In the spring of 2002, everything about my life changed. My husband of eight years and I separated and divorced. I moved to a city where I knew not a single soul and became a single mother of two children. My life as I knew it had been torn apart. The pieces of my life were now flotsam and jetsam, floating amid the shipwreck that was my life.
This morning I am reading 1 Timothy 1. Paul considers Timothy his son in the faith and addressed him as a loving father. In this first chapter, Paul is helping Timothy identify the causes and symptoms of a believer who is wandering from his faith. Among the reasons Paul gives for this happening are distractions (Verse 4) and non-Biblical teaching (Verse 6).
As he ends this chapter he categorizes those who wander as having "shipwrecked their faith". I pondered what the life of a shipwrecked Christian looked like and realized it is quite similar to what led to the demise of my marriage. Perhaps both my marriage and my faith can be enhanced by guarding them against shipwreck.
- Isolation - I associate being stranded on a desert island as the result of a shipwreck but in matters of marriage and faith this is often the catalyst for the wreck. Marriage and the church are institutions designated and designed by God to give us fellowship and encouragement. We are strengthened as we grow together not apart. At home, I must resist the temptation to live a separate life from spouse with divergent schedules and interests. At church, I must step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to live in authentic, Christ-centered community.
- Difficulty - Storms are quite often the culprit that results in a shipwreck. Whether I choose to react or respond to disagreement and difficulty in life, will determine if I grow towards my spouse and church or away from them during periods of stress. Reacting means allowing my emotions to control me. Responding means allowing my emotions to serve as God-given signals that alert me to my need to further work on my relationships.
In the fullness of time, we know that many maritime disasters could have been avoided or greatly mitigated with proper attentiveness and preparation. If the captain of the Titanic had heeded warnings from other ships. If the ship had been properly equipped with enough life jackets and boats. When my marriage fell apart, I was left pondering the ifs in my life. If I had heeded the warning signals in my marriage. If I had properly equipped my marriage with Biblical truth. Disaster in faith and marriage can also often be avoided by attentiveness and preparation.
Jesus, You desire no person to find themselves shipwrecked. I choose to run toward my spouse not away from him. I choose to live in authentic Christian community, not without it. I choose to press into You when the storms of life hurl around me. You are the unsinkable.