They called her the “unsinkable” ship, and a few brave souls said, “Even God couldn’t sink her.” That ship was the Titanic. The poster child for sunken ships and a revealing testimony in how trusting in man is a shipwreck.
Out of the 1, 517 souls lost, did no one trust the Lord? Eyewitness accounts tell us one man did and he didn’t jump ship. His name was John Harper
Who was this man, John Harper?
John Harper, his sister, and six-year-old daughter boarded the Titanic with excitement and wonder. This was an adventure of a lifetime. John Harper was going to America to preach and accept the honored position as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church founded by Dwight L. Moody.
John Harper’s trust in the Lord had never failed. Harper reaped a harvest in the churches he’d pastored in Glasgow and London. He was a preacher’s preacher suited for evangelism. He was a known for his accurate and intelligent grasp of Scripture, but most importantly He was known for His desire to reach the lost for Christ.
John Harper knew grief and sorrow. He was a widower. On this trip, though, John Harper didn’t know he was on his final assignment.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, he made sure his sister and daughter were in a lifeboat while shouting to others, “women, children, and the un-saved into the lifeboats.” Harper ran from person to person passionately telling them about Christ. To one man he offered his own life vest, “You need this more than I do.” When the ship went down, hundreds floundered in the frigid waters without hope. Harper struggled through hyperthermia to swim to as many people as he could find to tell them that Jesus saves.
John Harper met Jesus face-to-face that day, but he did not go alone.
The Mystery of the Yielded Heart
How can we trust the Lord even when we’re in difficult situations? Today Christians killed or imprisoned every day just because they name the name of Christ. Do they trust the Lord in vain?
Our mission field is not always the air-conditioned pulpit or the cushioned pew. For some, it is a prison or a thatched roof. Maybe it’s a sick body or a wounded marriage. In any case, those who trust the Lord will not be led astray.
The man in the prison preaches the good news. The woman in the hospital bed tells the nurse how she faces another day. A wounded marriage is healed. The testimonies of God’s faithfulness rise from the lips of those who trust in Him.
This happens every day in the lives of the people of the yielded heart. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. ~ Jeremiah 17:7 NIV
Meet Andy Meakins – a yielded heart
Franklin Graham, son of the well-known evangelist Billy Graham, met a man in the 80s – a gentle giant of the faith – an Englishman who loved the Lord and served in Africa. His name was Andy Meakins.
Franklin Graham tells us his story:
“In 1996 an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked. Andy Meakins and his wife were on that plane. The hijackers demanded to be taken to Australia, but there wasn’t enough fuel in the plane to get them there.”
“As they neared the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, one engine flamed out, and the pilot told passengers that the remaining engine would soon run out of fuel as well. Immediately, Andy’s wife heard the snap of a seatbelt being unbuckled and turned to see her husband stand up.”
“Many of us might die in this crash,” he called out, “so there’s something you need to know.” Andy then began explaining the Gospel simply and urgently, moving to each part of the cabin so that everyone would hear. He invited people to place their trust in Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. A flight attendant heard Andy’s words, bowed her head, and asked Jesus to forgive her sins and come into her heart. She watched many more respond and, along with another survivor, later told her story.
“Of the 175 people on board, 125 died, including Andy, who was still on his feet preaching the Gospel as the plane hit the water.”*
Andy met Jesus face-to-face that day, but he did not go alone.
You are a People of the Yielded Heart.
As we trust Him, we will are given the strength, ability, and talent to do His will. Just like John Harper and Andy Meakins, you are God’s witness.
You may feel like your ship is sinking and your life hijacked, but trust me there’s more going on than you can see. Under the surface, God is doing work – work for good.
More people are watching your life, and I assure you your life matters. The watching world is gaining strength in their own lives and with courage facing their own challenges because of what you’re going through today. They see Christ in you – the hope of glory.
God sees the big picture – you see only a slice of time. He knows what He’s doing, and it is good – very good.
Someday you too will meet Jesus face-to-face, but you will not go alone.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you…the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him. ~Psalm 32: 8 and 10b NIV
John Harper’s Last Convert by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer (Moody Church Media) and the Baptist Press
*Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Newsletter dated April 2, 2015
John Harper photo