Desperation Moments

"But often, in the world's most crowded streets, there rises an unspeakable desire. After the knowledge of our buried life, a thirst to spend our fire and restless force in tracking out our true, original course. A longing to inquire into the mystery of this heart which beats so wild, so deep in us . . . to know whence our lives come and where they go." - Matthew Arnold


Hi Friends:

"Desperation" defined: "A final attempt to avoid impending calamity; at the end of one’s endurance or resources; out of options; exasperated, frustrated, losing all hope and surrendering to despair"

A Tale of Two Ships

Desperation moments . . . Adrian Vasquez 18, Oropeces Betancourt, 24 and Fernando Osario, 16 were all in one . . . Judy Meredith , Jeff Gilligan and Jim Dowdall witnessed one . . . Edward Perrin (for reasons not clear) disregarded one.

The date . . . March 10th, 2012 . . . one hot, sultry, tropical Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. Two boats . . . the 26 foot Panamanian fishing vessel "Fifty Cents" . . . and the 950 foot Grand-Class Bermuda-registered cruise ship "Princess Star". Two Captains . . . Oropeces Betancourt was out of options in keeping himself and his crew of two alive, helplessly drifting after losing power 14 days earlier . . . Edward Perrin commanded a vessel and crew of 1,200 that were positioned to provide every indulgence imaginable to 2,000 on-board vacationers.

Two food-supplies . . . a pile of rotting, nose-wrenching fish on the "Fifty Cents" caught many days earlier . . . 14,000 lbs of top-grade beef, 4,000 lbs. of fresh fish. 22,000 eggs . . . just for starters on the "Star Princess". Two dreams . . . a nightmare for three young helpless men . . . a fantasy voyage for hundreds of newlyweds, retirees and singles meeting sun . . . and . . . other singles.

One mile . . . the closest distance between an "all-things-wrong" disaster . . . and an "all-things-right" holiday at sea. Two perspectives . . . the appearance on the horizon of the most massive white sea vessel ever to Captain Betancourt, and getting closer every minute . . . the oddity and urgency of a sailor frantically waving an orange life jacket in a tiny vessel in the longscope lens of three seabird-watchers on the deck of the Star Princess.

3,203 sets of eyes . . . three hoping, praying, begging for rescue . . . 2,997 caught up in the luxuries and routine duties of splendor at sea which included four swimming pools, a nine-hole putting green, a casino, a spa, a theater and much more . . . and three ornithologists jarred from staring at scores of seabirds to three souls on the verge of gruesome painful death.

Ships Passing in the Day

Distress can happen in degrees, but distress with panic and desperation is unmistakable, even from a mile away. July Meredith of Bend, Oregon stopped the first Star Princess crew member she found who in turn alerted the crew on the bridge. Moments later, an officer arrived, used his own longscope and in fact spotted the three men in distress and returned to the bridge.

A short time later, Judy and her fellow bird-loving passengers Jeff Gilligan from Portland, Oregon and Jim Dowdall from Ireland had the sickening realization that the cruise ship never slowed, never changed course . . . and they learned later, never alerted authorities to a crisis at sea. By now, the Star Princess had vanished from the sight of Captain Betancourt and his two crew mates.

Betancourt would go unconscious later that night and died the following day. Fernando Osario, the youngest of the three fishermen, died five days later. Adrian Vasquez managed to survive all 28 days at sea and was found unconscious next to his two lifeless friends near the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles from their Panamanian port and 14 days after encountering the Star Princess.

Regulation 33 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V states:
"The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance."

Captain Edwin Perrin would go on to record in the official ship's log that the Star Princess encountered a fishing fleet and was urged by fishermen to keep distance as to avoid destroying fishing nets, but now publicly maintains that he was horrified to learn of the demise of the crew of the "Fifty Cents".

Not Oceans Apart

While your life may be "parked" far from a Panamanian fishing village . . . it's what we all hold in common with the three fishermen that should bring pause for careful consideration . . . for it is their "fishing-trip-gone-bad" which reminds us that not even one second of our lives is free from the question of who has authority and control over our choices, our well-being and our future. Someone is always in charge.

When it comes to our spiritual status, God's Word tell us that we are all from birth very much like the three young fishermen. We set sail relying on our own ingenuity and resources only to discover sooner or later that they have limits . . . that which is within our heart and produced by our hands can't steer clear of evil and destruction. Without seeking and securing rescue, our trust in self-authority will ultimately cost us everything . . . but God has always had our rescue in mind. From Romans 7:24-25 we read,

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

When God looks at you and I, He sees the helpless toddler, the overwhelmed neighbor, the trapped senior . . . yes, even the stranded sailor . . . and He not just being a God who loves, but being the very embodiment of love itself, can do nothing but intervene.

Is this the season . . . is today the day . . . is this the moment . . . when you are ready to cry out in your "desperation moment"? To say "yes" to God's rescue . . . God's grace . . . to say "yes" to life in Christ . . .


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