April 3, 2008

Crush Depth

A few weeks ago, I found free streams of one of my favorite 1960s sci-fi tv series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, at hulu.com. The series ran from 1964 to 1968. Although I'm not old enough to have watched its original run, I remember watching syndicated reruns in the early 1970s.

I loved the extensive underwater photography and although I didn't always follow the Cold War era espionage elements of the first season's episodes, I identified closely with the leading characters.

Someone told me any good artistic creation (regardless of topic) contains elements of the gospel if you're willing to see them. I found these elements in an episode titled The Fear Makers. In this episode, an experimental submarine attempts to expand the limits of "crush depth", or the furthest depths a submarine can travel before experiencing structural failure and collapsing or exploding under the pressure of the deep ocean.

As Christians, we're often called to go to the limits of our personal crush depths. Perhaps it's a challenging relationship, school, work, family members, illness, church conflicts, or the boredom or routines of everyday life. Perhaps we are dealing with a combination of some or all of the above. Somehow or other, we just reach the point where the pressure feels too extreme for us to continue to function. What's the answer? Do we have an alternative to total collapse or failure?

In the Voyage episode, a few answers emerged. As Polidor (the experimental sub) traveled to more remote depths, the vessel's hull remained intact and all systems were OK. The crew, unfortunately, became so obsessed about how far they'd traveled that they lost focus and actually stopped taking directions from their off-site commander. In the confusion, the ship veered off course and exploded when it went beyond it's programmed route. That lesson is pretty clear, isn't it?

Even more intriguing, it was later discovered an "enemy agent" placed a fear-inducing gas aboard the sub and as the voyage continued, crew members were overcome with irrational fears and the inability to work together. Unable to take or follow orders, obsessed with the fear of destruction and loss of life, the crew's errors and mistakes doomed the vessel. Near the end, communications between the crew and the off-site command center were lost. Those investigating the disaster later learned the fear gas was ineffective when those exposed to it were pre-warned of its effects.

Failing to adjust attitude (direction) when ordered to do so, the ship did in fact go beyond it's predetermined "crush depth" and was destroyed. If communications had remained open and orders followed, the ship would have completed its mission and returned safely to its home base.

Where's the gospel in all of this? Know that Jesus Christ, our commander, will never send us into a place we're unprepared for. Keep the lines of communication open. When He tells you to adjust your attitude, do it. You have a pre-programmed crush depth and He knows what it is. Be aware and wary of the fear makers. Stay on course, on duty, and look forward to returning to home base after your mission is completed.

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