2 Timothy 1:7 (New International Version)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
It has been a while since a powerful magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. The confirmed death toll is over 13,000. In the midst of all the horror stories are occasional heroic tales of survival and rescue. One of the most fascinating is that of Susumu Sugawara.
The 64-year-old Sugawara is the owner-operator of a small boat named "Sunflower." After the massive earthquake and in view of the tsunami warnings being broadcast, he had to make a quick decision. Should he head for high ground on his island of Oshima? Should he put his boat to sea and try to ride out the fury? His chose to launch his boat and head for deep water offshore.
"I knew if I didn't save my boat," he told a CNN reporter, "my island would be isolated and in trouble." So he ran to his 42-year-old craft that can hold about 20 people at a time and went full-throttle toward the deadly waves that would kill people whose names and faces he knew. Then he saw the wall of water.
Accustomed to waves ten to twelve feet high, this one was fully 50 to 60 feet high. Sugawara knew that he and his boat could easily wind up at the bottom of the sea. He drove straight for it - "climbing the wave like a mountain," as he put it. And the mountain seemed only to grow bigger and bigger. There was a huge crash of water over him. Only then could he see the horizon. He had survived!
Sugawara made his way back to his now-devastated Oshima. For the month since, he has been a lifeline by making hourly trips to the mainland to ferry people and supplies. If people can help pay for gasoline, he accepts money. If they have lost everything and can pay nothing, he still welcomes them aboard.
I don't know if the Japanese captain made the reasonable and right decision on that fateful day. But the report shows he lived through the ordeal. His helping others with a sense of sensitivity to their suffering is something the rest of us can only admire from a distance.
As we look at this man we can learn from his story. Against hesitation and fear, it makes more sense to ride into the teeth of life's challenges than to run away.
There is a cash-flow crisis. There is an unexpected problem with a product. A major supplier has failed, or a major customer has bailed. Some executives kick into denial mode or ball up in a fetal position. Their companies fail. Leaders steer right into the problem and act with integrity to name and face the problem.
Or maybe the problem is far more serious. A spouse says the marriage is over. The police or hospital calls with a parent's worst nightmare about an arrest or accident. Maybe you get a diagnosis that sounds like a death sentence. Do you run and hide? Self-medicate with drugs or alcohol? Or do you steer into the teeth of the storm and pray for courage you have never had to display before?
One of our First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, put it this way "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face,"
Dear Lord we pray that we would have the strength to head life’s storms head on. We pray that we would remember that You are there with us and will guide us and give us strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.