(April 06, 2022) Robert McQuillan shares some April thoughts…
110 years ago on Sunday 14 April 1912, the massive White Star liner RMS Titanicstruck an iceberg. That catastrophe is generally reported as happening at 23.39… Three hours, one minute later, at 2.40am Monday morning the so-called unsinkable, luxury liner was gone in the calmest but coldest seas (28 degrees under).
Only 750 were plucked from the frigid sea. Sadly, 1523 had perished.
It was indeed, as the Walter Lord‘s prolific 1955 book and subsequent 1958 movie called it, A Night to Remember.
Titanic’s ‘If Onlys’
Among other beliefs – and ‘believed mysteries or conspiracy theories’ – the following have been associated with that horrifying disaster.
- The British Board of Trade ruling had called for more lifeboats.
- The crow’s nest spotters binoculars hadn’t disappeared.
- Iceberg warnings had been taken more seriously.
- Bruce Ismay, White Star managing director, hadn’t pressed for a speedier (24k) crossing.
- First officer Murdoch hadn’t reversed the main engines, handicapping the turning ability.
- The ship had had a double hull.
- The watertight doors had been higher than three metres (and there had been more doors).
- There had been more red flares on board.
- The mysterious ship nearby had responded to the distress signals
- The Carpathia hadn’t been so far away to steam to the rescue (four hours away).
- ‘We’ hadn’t booked on the maiden voyage.
- Morgan Robertson’s 1898 romantic novel The Wreck of the Titan or, Futility had been taken seriously. (Later this book would be regarded as ‘prophetic’ as it centred on ‘the largest craft afloat… unsinkable, indestructible she carried as few boats as would satisfy the laws’ being sunk by an iceberg. ‘Fourteen years before the greatest civil maritime disaster of all time, this story eerily prefigured the actual calamity’ of the Titanic).
That’s 12 ‘If Onlys.’
Thirteen is often regarded as unlucky. Christians don’t believe in ‘luck’ as we trust God (or should!), but here’s a thirteenth ‘If only’, a sad one…
- God hadn’t been mocked! Seems it was mockingly, jokingly claimed that even God couldn’t sink Titanic (not that He would have!).
Life’s Íf Onlys’…
Dwelling on Titanic if onlys or any life’s disasters can’t change the past!
Nothing can change history. Things go wrong in life, even to Christians!In fact, we all face ‘if onlys’ in our own lives. For example… If only I –
(i) Hadn’t chosen the wrong…
- Marriage partner.
- School for my children.
- House to buy.
- Street and town to live in.
- Financial planner.
(ii) Hadn’t made that…
- Ill-fated choice.
- Stupid decision.
- Crazy bet.
- Ludicrous deal.
- Had that wrong attitude.
- Taken that one-night stand.
- Thought wrongly about that person.
- Spoken hurtful words.
- Driven the car that day.
- Criticised the boss.
- Done that to my loved one.
- Chosen that tradie.
Been there? Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder, said…
Classic Bible ‘If Onlys’
- Adam and Eve’s ‘fruit supplier choice’ (Genesis 3: 6). Sin became humanity’s lot!
- Lot’s ‘land option deal’ (Genesis 13: 8-13). Wrong choice, Nephew!
- Abraham’s ‘one night stand’ (Genesis 16:4). Today’s’ troubles!
- Samson’s ‘deceptive lover’ (Judges 16:4). Lost his strength and God’s calling!
- David’s ‘midnight stroll’ (2 Samuel 11:2). Affected his reputation.
- Solomon’s ‘heart trouble’ (1 Kings 11:6, 9). Attitude cost him the kingdom!
- Hezekiah’s ‘$10 tour’ (2 Kings 20:12-17). Lost his investments!
All these relate to 1 John 2:16… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Some results of our ‘If Onlys’
- Life-affecting mistakes
- Great losses
- Feeling stupid, inadequate and unsure of oneself.
- Uncertainty about future decision-making.
- Arguments (spousal, boss, friends…).
- Sicknesses… physically, mentally and spiritually.
- Uncertainty about discussing some matters.
- Tricks of the mind.
- Not able to fully trust certain people.
- Crushed dreams.
- Knocked down feeling.
- Continually dwelling on the past.
Results of wrong choices? As per this icon!
Dealing with ‘If Onlys’
But I bring encouragement… Truth is that an ‘if only’ is not the end of the world!
I know, personally from years of experience, that life isn’t over when some tragedy raises its ugly head… even if I still have to work through some things. Here’s what I call my ABC principles…
a) Rolling Stone Principle
Yes, it doesn’t gather any moss, but think where’s it’s been! Every life experience, good or bad, can help us grow strong.
So after I have my pity session, I ask the big question: ’What am I learning from this that I can grow from, and become a wiser and stronger person?’
b) Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Principle
Yesterday is history; I can’t change it, no matter how much I want. I’m not Cap’t Kirk: I can’t command, ‘Beam me down, Scotty, to May 1995 (or whenever) the day before I made that stupid mistake… and I’ll change everything.’
No, I can’t change the past, but, trusting Jesus, I can do something about the future!
Tomorrow is a mystery; I don’t know what it’s going to bring. But one thing I do know… I’m going to be a better person from what I learned from my mistakes, from my if onlies. I’ll endeavour to think clearer, be kinder, speak more charitably and …whatever.
Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present! Why wait until tomorrow to become a better person, I’ll take the gift of today and start now. What did I learn from those things I can’t physically change that I can swing into practice right now?
c) Refocus Principle
Arthur Gordon (above) was right! ‘If Onlys’ if dwelt on only get bigger in one’s mind – we’ll feel defeated. Therefore I refocus on something better or new!
So I make a conscious decision to move on and live my gift of life again. To quote from that well-known song, ‘I pick myself up, shake myself down and start all over again. ‘
I figure it this way: Why should I dwell on and live in the past? That’s where the darkness is, where death is, and I am not going to dwell in the darkness. I prefer God’s light and I choose to live there.
The real secret is to focus on Jesus and what He has for our lives. Here’s Paul’s ABCs:
1. Power! 2 Corinthians 4: 7-8, 16-18. Focus on Jesus’ inner power!
2. Prayer! Romans 8:26-28. Focus on the Spirit’s intercession for us!
3. Persuasion! Romans 8:37-39. Focus on God’s love!
Well, it works! I know so, having discovered over many years that simple solutions work so much better and quicker that involved, complicated and lengthy ones. Yes, some may have to be lengthy but let’s aim for the quickies.
Be encouraged to quickly find your own solution that works for you. Then you’ll be on top to help others find their way away from their crippling if onlys.
I’m talking about wanting to change and that’s something we fight for as it’s got be ‘Fight or Flight.’ As Mark Twain said: ‘The only person that quickly embraces change is a wet baby!’
One other Titanic-centred thought…
It happens that I come from the city where the Titanic was built (by the way, wondrously built by Harland and Wolff’s careful hard-working, dedicated workers who knew their trade!).
My first employment as a 13-year-old straight from school was with the local agents of the Cunard Line. I would be booking passage for people emigrating to the States, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Now until 1950, the Cunard Line had been called Cunard-White Star Line, the two companies having merged in 1934. Some people with long memories would stupidly jest, ‘Working for the company that owned the Titanic? Better watch which ship you book people on.’
Cunard didn’t ‘own’ Titanic! Cunard ships were very safe, still are! Happy, delighted passengers would arrive safely at their destinations.
Once I booked a man to America but after he’d left the office, I realised I hadn’t taken the fare. I was just a kid back then and my boss wasn’t very happy with me, ordering me to do something about my oversight! That night, a very dark one, I travelled by bus to the customer’s home, and asked for the payment. No problem… he was happy to pay for his venture to what was still then termed ‘the new world.’
Isn’t it great that ‘God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16) and no one has to pay for ‘the voyage’ to God’s ‘new world’ in eternity!’
That’s what Easter is really all about… not bunny rabbits, chocs and eggs! It’s about Jesus on Calvary sacrificially paying our fare, as it was, to heaven and home, Hallelujah!
May we drop all unwanted ‘if onlys’ baggage and look forward to our Saviour’s warm greeting! And, meantime, let’s share the gospel’s good news that all are welcome… on repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and Lord.