Making a Shipwreck of Life
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.1 Timothy 1:19-20
Whenever I’ve struggled with the painful consequences my self-destructive nature, I’ve gone to God, asking him to simply take over. God, I give you permission. Just assume control of my life. Make all my decisions for me. I’m obviously not capable. You do it. If my life is a ship, he’s the captain and so, I want him to steer the boat. I don’t know much about sailing, but that’s apparently not how it works. Evidently, someone else – such as a helmsman or quartermaster – actually does the steering, while the captain gives commands.
This is an apt metaphor for the Christian life. I may want God to take over and steer my life, but he doesn’t. He leaves me, the helmsman, at the wheel, while telling me where to go. The problem of course, is that I have my own mind. I think I know best. I say I believe in God, but when it comes down to the day to day decisions, I still want to go my way. Maybe one little turn of the wheel isn’t so disastrous, but when I go my way for a thousand days in a row, I find myself a thousand days off course, shipwrecked and miserable. How did I get here? I got there by failing to listen to the captain, by going my own way, and by doing my own thing.
In today’s passage, Paul addressed Timothy, regarding two such individuals in his church. Hymenaeus and Alexander didn’t believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, nor the physical resurrection of Christians after death. They followed their own way, teaching others that the resurrection had already happened, not physically, but spiritually. It may be a little complicated, but basically, they didn’t follow Christ. They followed themselves, making a shipwreck of their faith. In doing so, Paul said they were going to suffer painful consequences.
Unfortunately for us, this is usually how we must learn. Most of us grow only through times of pain and discomfort. We make our own decisions, often poorly, and then we suffer for them. In our misery, we (hopefully) learn to follow Christ, making better decisions.
You’d think this would be a once-for-all decision. Jesus, take the wheel. God though, allows me to continue to steer. Personally, I’d like to learn without the shipwrecks of life. So, today, and every day, I must look to God, asking where he wants me to go. Then, I must be obedient, steering my life towards his will, not my own.