This week marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the great ship Titanic. Long before the blockbuster movie, I was intrigued by the story of the so-called unsinkable ship seeing her demise in the middle of the North Atlantic.
As much as we would like to believe that there are unsinkable ships or fireproof buildings, we know that everything on earth is susceptible to something. Tornadoes happen. Hurricanes happen. Fires, floods, and earthquakes happen.
As highly segregated by social classes as people were then, in the final moments before Titanic sank, all decorum and “civilized” behavior melted away as the passengers struggled to survive the ship’s descent into the icy water. Even as much as it has been discussed over the years, it remains a heartbreaking reminder that we are not in control.
One of the scenes from the movie that stands out most in my mind is near the end, after the ship has sunk, where the heroine (Rose) is floating on a piece of debris and the hero (Jack) is floating in the freezing water beside her. [if you are one of the 6 people on earth who don’t know how this movie ends, I’m giving you a huge spoiler alert right now.] Rose holds Jack’s hand as he dies. “I’ll never let go!” she says. “I’ll never let go.” Then, she lets go and Jack’s lifeless body falls down beneath the surface of the water.
It reminds me of the story of a man who fell off a cliff and was clinging to a branch sticking out of the side of the mountain. He prays without ceasing until finally God answers his prayer aloud. “I am here. I will take care of you. Just let go.” The man is silent for a moment and yells, “Is anybody else out there?!”
We hold on to so many things that we cannot control—how other people perceive us, our possessions, fears about our health, making others do what we want them to do—the list goes on. The only thing that is certain in this life is that God loves us. In the midst of the storms and the fires and the earthquakes and the tsunamis and the sinking ships and the illnesses, God loves us.
As problems and fears swirl around us, we cling to any and every tangible thing that makes us feels secure. But the security is false and fleeting—God is saying “just let go.” As much as we want to hold on to our security blankets and the things we treasure, like Rose we must realize that there comes a time when we absolutely must let them go.
When we learn to let go of the things that hold us back, then we can learn to trust in God—knowing full well that God will never let go of us.