March 5, 2014
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them .... Romans 12:4-6a
A few weeks ago, military re-enactors in Charleston, South Carolina, revived the memory of the Confederate submarine Hunley.
If you've never heard of the Hunley, let me share its story: during the War Between the States, the Union Navy had managed to hold a blockade on the South Carolina city of Charleston.
Without the most basic of supplies being delivered, the citizens of that beautiful community had become desperate. As you know, desperate times call for desperate measures. That desperation lead to the building of the Confederate submarine called the Hunley.
May I tell you the vessel, while brilliant in its conception, was a death trap?
During its first training exercise, the Hunley sank and killed five members of the crew. Less than two months later, the vessel sank again. That time it took the lives of all eight crew members, including that of H. L. Hunley, the ship's creator.
You might think these catastrophes would mark the end of the ill-fated sub. Not so. Another crew, a crew composed completely of volunteers, came forward to pilot the sub and break the blockade. To that end, on the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley went down in the history books as being the first submarine to ever sink another vessel.
Yes, the Hunley went down in the history books, but in doing so the Hunley also took the lives of a third crew as it went down in Charleston Harbor. There the boat stayed until it was recovered more than 130 years later.
Knowing that story, I have often wondered why did that third crew volunteer? While many reasons can be offered, I can only think of one that holds water: they believed in the cause. If that is the case, then consider two observations:
1 - Even though Jesus knew His life would end on Calvary's cross, He still became one of us. This He did so He could carry our sins, defeat our enemies, and rise on the third day. The cause of doing the Father's will and saving us from damnation must have been a precious cause to Him.
2 - Why is it that many of our churches must plead for volunteers to come forward to teach Sunday school, be part of an evangelism team, or do the other things a vibrant congregation should do in thanks to the Savior? Is it because these causes are not important to us?
I pray not. I pray that a paraphrase of the hymn-writer's words may be in our grateful hearts.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord ... Let none hear us idly saying, "There is nothing I can do," while the souls of men are dying, and the Master calls for us. Take the task He gives us gladly. Let His work our pleasure be; answer quickly when He calls us, "Here am I, send me, send me!" In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries