“Some have made shipwreck of their faith”
On northern Hatteras Island, NC is found Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station (CL-SS) museum. (Pronounced: chi-ca-ma-COM-mi-co, emphasis on “COM”) Last week, in the blowing rain I stopped in front of the gray wooden “timber frame” buildings and imagined what it must have been like at this remote 19th-century seaside outpost. The sensation of the wind buffeting my truck added to the moment. In 1884 this life-saving station was erected to save lives. Despite meticulous logbooks we may never know the exact number of people this station saved. So many people for innumerable reasons found themselves shipwrecked off the coast of Rodanthe. (Pronounced: ro-DAN-the, “the” as in “theater”) Those dedicated men and women of the station held no precondition for anyone’s salvation. They tried to save them all. They simply worked and lived with the hope that no one would die this way. For it is so true, anyone can get shipwrecked.
“Some have made shipwreck of their faith,” wrote Paul to young Timothy. Paul is using “shipwreck” as a metaphor, but, he is quite familiar with the situation. Paul admits in one of his letters to the church in Corinth that he has suffered shipwreck, “three times I was shipwrecked.” But this time in his letter to Timothy he uses the catastrophe as a metaphor. Paul writes that this is what can happen to Christians that do not hold on to their “faith (in God) and good conscience.” I would compare “faith and good conscience” to having a “trust in a map and good compass.” For example, a mariner may say, “I believe this map will lead me to my destination, yet, a good compass to help get me through.” Whether it is a trusty map and good compass, or faith and good conscience, it is not one or the other to avoid shipwreck.
“Faith and good conscience” can keep us from the proverbial “shipwreck.” And it takes both faith and good conscience. As written, “One’s faith and one’s conscience cannot be separated.” A good conscience comes when we hold tight to our Christian faith. Otherwise, rejecting the faith and refusing to listen to one’s conscience will end in “shipwrecked” faith, stranded Christians in want of a lifeboat to get to shore. I wonder how often the people of CL-SS saved someone who had ignored either their map or their compass.
Though CL-SS is now only a museum offering an annual exhibit of their life-saving drill performed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Christ still stands on the shore of our ocean awaiting our call for salvation, salvation for all. Thankfully, Christ can be seen from wherever we may be shipwrecked.