On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members of the lifesaving crew kept a constant watch over the sea. And with no thought of themselves, they went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost in rough waters. So many lives were saved by this dedicated little station that it became famous. Many of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained and the little lifesaving station grew.
But some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy because the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge for those who were saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building which also included a kitchen and dining area.
Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They decorated it attractively and furnished it more comfortably, because they began using it as sort of a private club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do the “dirty” work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decorations and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where initiations and ritual ceremonies were held.
Then one night a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, injured and half-drowned people. They were dirty, sick and hurting; and some of them had black skin, some had brown skin and some had yellow skin. The property committee was so upset by this threat to the clubhouse atmosphere that they immediately had a bathhouse built outside where the victims of future shipwrecks could be cleaned up before being allowed inside.
At the next meeting a heated discussion led to a difference of opinion among the club membership. Most members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities because they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the social life of the club. But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose, and they were still called “a lifesaving station.” These few were voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the different people shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station further down the coast. And they did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It eventually evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded further down the coast. History continued to repeat itself, and, if you were to visit that sea coast today, you would find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore with large memberships and attractive buildings. While shipwrecks continue to occur often in those waters, most of the people drown because there is just one operating lifesaving station in a little hut, with only one boat, and a few devoted members of the crew keeping a constant watch over the sea.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org