Blessed is he who misses the boat

“Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies.”   Psalm 103:4

One of the truly amazing things about Jesus’ nature is that He is the Redeemer.  He takes lives that are on a path to destruction and rescues them.   He takes things that are bad in our lives and makes something good out of them. 

To be on the receiving end of His redemptive work in our lives is always so overwhelming because it is not something that can be earned.  To undeserving recipients His redemption is the free gift of His abundant grace and the hallmark expression of His love and care.

Redemption comes in many forms from small daily doses to huge breakthrough turnarounds.  I love redemption testimonies because they inspire faith and hope for good to yet be resurrected out of bad.

Many times redemption is disguised as disappointment.  Opportunities may pass us by.  Things we really wanted and looked forward to do not materialize.  Or one of the hardest things of all, something we have been praying for and were even convinced was God’s will for us does not come to pass.

One of the great testimonies of redemption is that of J Stuart Holden, pastor of St. Paul’s Church, Portman Square in London.  He was invited to speak at a six day International Christian Convention in New York beginning April 20, 1912.  One day before his ship was to sail his wife became ill and regrettably he had to cancel and return their tickets.  He was crushed.  On April 11, their ship set sail for America from Queenstown, England without them.  Three and a half days later, on April 15, that ship, the Titanic, hit an iceberg and sunk taking 1523 passengers with it to the bottom of the North Atlantic.

When Rev. Holden and his wife heard the news of the Titanic disaster they were overwhelmed.  Rev. Holden took the envelope (above) which once held the tickets he had reluctantly returned and framed it.  On the matte he inscribed with his own hand the first part of the verse from Psalm 103:4  “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction.” 

Mrs. Holden’s illness and a resultant cancelled passage ended up miraculously sparing them great trauma and almost certain death.  Holden’s framed yellowed envelope is now on exhibit at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum, a lasting testimony to the mercy of God disguised initially as disappointment.

Remarkably there were two other ministers headed for the New York convention who also missed the boat that April 10, because of unforeseen circumstances.  There was also a missionary family, the Nesbitts returning on furlough from India who missed the boat due to a family illness.

Those who missed the boat on that fateful sailing all experienced God’s gracious mercy.  Some of the biggest blessings in our lives come as a result of missing some boat we really wanted to be on.  God’s ways however are always higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9)

In the year the movie “Titanic” came out I preached a sermon entitled, “Blessed is he who misses the boat.”  We were at a very disappointing juncture in the history of Bridgewood Community Church.  After years of renting we had been diligently praying and looking for land to build a church home.  A land deal that had all the earmarks of being a gift from God had just been ripped from our grasp.  The city council denied a final appeal of ours for a zoning permit thus blocking the sale.  We were crushed. 

And so on that Sunday, July 27, 1997, after my message, the congregation all stood together and we prayed thanking God that we had missed the boat regarding the land.  Amazingly, the very next day a realtor called me about the availability of 20 acres of land.  It was in an even more ideal location for an even better price than the land deal that had been blocked.  It was a turnaround of amazing proportions taking us from disappointment to delight.  Within forty-eight hours of our prayer we had signed the purchase agreement on our redemption piece of land. 

Are you wrestling with disappointments and unanswered prayers?  I write this encourage you to consider the redemptive nature of our God.  He is certainly working behind the scenes to take your seemingly bad situation and make something good out of it.

Do you have a redemption story?  Please share it.

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5 thoughts on “Blessed is he who misses the boat”

  1. Eghosa Igunbor

    Hallelujah! Grace keeps us and when we trust and obey (for there is no other way), we will always be happy in Jesus…

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Not sure how your comment relates specifically to this however. God bless you!

  3. Pastor Tom, thank you for the time and diligence you spent in writing the article above. I was just reading a sermon by J. Stuart Holden on ‘The Blessing of Unrealized Aims’ and the story of David’s experience in 2 Chronicles 6:8, 9. Your story of Holden’s experience regarding the Titanic was very comforting and encouraging.

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