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How Far Into The Garden?
by Bro. Clifford Hurst

1101 North Union Road
Dayton, Ohio 45417

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Easter Service 2015

The Saint Foka was the Russian ship in the early 1900's that delivered one batch of arctic explorers seeking to travel to the North Pole, and later, serendipitously, rescued another, the only two marooned survivors of a different, failed arctic exploration expedition. One of those two, a navigator, Albanov, kept a thorough diary from which I learned the following: The Saint Foka had found it almost impossible to escape the ice pack because she had run out of coal. Although Albanov and his companion had been rescued, they and the whole crew were in dire danger of yet not surviving. Trying to take advantage of any open lead in the ice and break through to navigable waters, the crew began to dismantle parts of the ship to feed the engine. They burned the planks of the steerage decks and the forecastles. They even burned the blubbery bodies of walruses they had shot for food. Then, they sawed up the mast and jibs for fuel. Next consumed were the coils of rope, extra sails, and the very mattresses they slept on. Soon, they were tearing apart the cabins and ripping out the ship's supporting beams to feed the engine. My mind could not help but think of America's current condition: The beams that supported the ship against the crushing ice and badgering waves were gone. The cabins that sheltered the men from freezing winds were gone. No one from the outside set the ship on fire. From all outward appearances the ship did not appear to be burning. But, being burned it was. We are out of coal. We are sacrificing every principle and resource to try to keep things going. Our very debt has consumed our supporting beams and cabin planking. At first glance, America appears to be the powerful ship she has always been. But, inwardly, she has become a hollowed hull. The stores of economic and moral fuel are gone. The beams are burned. The supports are consumed. The partitioning walls have been removed and incinerated, and there is nothing to keep out the evil. America's crew did it to their own ship. None can fault the Saint Foka's crew's seeking to survive. She had no options. We willfully watched the spiritual, economic, and moral stores run out. We did nothing to replenish. We took trips we needed not take. Ours was not an arctic exploration but a pleasure cruise. We burned in the fires of hedonism and lofty, self-righteous ideas of "equality" every beam of godly principles; we removed every moral boundary that partitioned us from invading evil forces. We might have begun on a pleasure cruise, but we are headed into worse than a crushing ice pack to a darkness deeper than any arctic winter's twenty-four hour nights. We've nothing left to burn. Fortunately the Saint Foka escaped the ice just before destruction, and the survivors were saved by another ship. In the past, we have been the rescue ship of the world. We have no ship to rescue us. We cannot rescue ourselves. We are out of fuel. Wait! There is another ship. We used to sing of it in a now antiquated hymn. "The Gospel Ship." It is truly our only hope.

  Read more of Pastor Hurst's Pastors Desk Articles!