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What Held Us Steady in a Storm

A gyroscope at the center of the ship once kept me safe in a storm. The COVID 19 pandemic right now is challenging all of us with bad weather. Until now, only a few had been studying the possibility of a world-wide virus pandemic, and they were nervous about what they knew. End of October was just published by Lawrence Wright, a novel with eerie parallels to the pandemic we are now in. Wright wrote the book last year after interviewing dozens of researchers and scholars, many of whom met every year to plan how we might respond to a pandemic just like the one we are experiencing. How do we survive, and how can we sustain our economy without great risk to the public's health? In this stormy situation, many things we were counting on are changed or totally stopped. I could not imagine an Easter Sunday morning with all the churches closed. Many people are worried their income will disappear. Drug and alcohol abuse is rising, as people try to soothe their fears. A county prosecutor in southern Ohio reports arrests and overdoses are occurring at two to three times the pace before the pandemic. Being cooped up has exacerbated the wounds of unsteady or unstable people, and bad things happen in families more frequently. We need something strong and steady to hold on to. A long time ago, when I was in my 20's, we came home from India via a passenger ocean liner, the SS President Cleveland. Yes, back then, passenger liners actually traveled regular routes, not just cruise ships. Our room was a little box way down in the lower part, about 8 feet by 8 feet. There were about 575 passengers and 350 crew members aboard. We boarded in Hong Kong, and it took three weeks to travel to Yokohama, Japan, then to Hawaii, and on to San Francisco. During that long space, about 9 days, between Japan and Hawaii, we sailed through a storm. The ship would roll back and forth so much that one day the chairs and tables skidded across the floor of the dining room in which we were eating lunch. We were warned to not go out on deck. But I did anyway, so I could get a couple pictures. What I saw was the water way up higher than the deck on one side of the ship and way down on the other, and a few seconds later, the two sides were reversed. I can’t even guess how high the waves actually were. But what amazed me was that the crew was not disturbed or worried. Just the passengers. Why? I asked one of the officers why it didn’t bother them. He explained that the ship was enduring the high winds and waves with relatively modest rolls, although to us inexperienced sailors, they were too high to enjoy. So I asked, “Why was it stable?” The officer explained that deep in the bowels of the ship was a giant gyroscope (over 100 tons) spinning like a top. That gyroscope resisted the stormy waves pounding the ship and being securely fixed to the main structure of the ship, stabilized it to go through seas that others would have avoided. Right now, we all need something stable down deep inside ourselves. For me that comes from Jesus, fixed in my heart, my identity, my soul. Of course, the uncertainties of life still move my emotions, and challenge my mind. I think hard to discern among the choices I do have. But there are many factors in our life and yours, my readers, where we really have no control, any more than the ship with the gyroscope could control the waves. What’s important is that sound solid center, the living Christ, must be firmly connected to my life, not loosely, but solidly connected. I hope that every one of you who might read this will have that spiritual gyroscope deep in you to keep you stable and steady in the present storm and any others to come. Suddenly a fierce storm hit the lake, and the boat was in danger of sinking. But Jesus was asleep. Matthew 8:24 (GNT) © 2020 Stanley Hagemeyer

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