On a dangerous seacoast well known for many shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, it was merely a hut with only one boat, but the few members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they went out day & night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as for the lost. Many lives were saved by this brave little band who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. In time, it became a famous place.
Some of those who had been saved, as well as others along the seacoast, wanted to be a part of this little station. They were willing to give their time, energy, and money in support of its objectives. Some new boats were purchased and additional crews were trained. The station, once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant, began to grow. Some of its members expressed displeasure that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, handmade equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, and systems. By the time of its completion, the lifesaving station had grown into a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as a sort of clubhouse, an attractive building for public gathering. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred anymore.
Fewer members were interested in braving the sea on the old lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work in their place. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten. Lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations and stories. There was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped to hide the layer of dust that had accumulated on the once-used vessel. About this time a large ship was wrecked on the rocks off the coast and the boat crews began bringing in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some were terribly sick and lonely. Others were “different” from the majority of the club members. It was apparent to some that the beautiful new club had suddenly become messy and cluttered.
A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately erected outside the club, away from the members so the victims of the shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting strong words were exchanged and angry feelings were expressed, and this resulted in a division among the members.
Most of the people wanted an immediate stop to the club’s lifesaving activities and all of the involvements with shipwreck victims. As you’d expect, some still insisted on saving lives, because that this was “their primary objective” – and that their only reason for existence was to minister to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They had good intentions, but they just didn’t understand that the financial support for the club was coming primarily from the folks who liked things the new way. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! And so they did.
As the years passed, the new station experienced many of these same changes. The new station evolved into another club – and in time yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself. And today if you visit that coast you’ll find a very large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by professionals who are content with status quo and have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.
Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, maybe even more than before, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they perish at sea, and so few really seem to care … so very few.