The seas were rough and frigid the afternoon of December 17. After checking the surface for nearby ships, the crew of the 800-ton submarine USS S-4 ended her run by bringing up her periscope directly in the path of an onrushing former U.S. naval destroyer. The destroyer’s Officer-of-the-Deck immediately ordered the engines reversed at full throttle and jammed the rudder over trying to avoid the still-submerged portion of the rising sub. A jarring collision ripped a gash four feet long and two feet wide in a central ballast tank of the USS S4. Nothing could stop the surge of icy water racing in to fill the ballast. The sub spun hard, dipped its nose, and headed toward the ocean depths. Inside, six bruised submariners scrambled for the torpedo room where they jammed the door closed to lock out the rising waters. The rest scrambled up the increasingly steep floor to the control room, shutting it behind the last submariner. It didn’t leak much as the sub settled onto the mud 102 feet down. They had, at most, 72 hours of oxygen, but each breath sucked the limited oxygen from the air.
No doubt you’ve never been trapped on the sea floor, but you’ve probably had rising hopes that suddenly were sent spinning out of control. Perhaps you’ve been trapped in a prison of dwindling hope with the heavy load of your sins, guilt and fear. Worse yet, is there a chance that you have “no hope” and are “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12)?
On the surface the destroyer waited, but only oil and bubbles, bubbles of precious oxygen, made their way to the surface. Three deep-sea divers and lots of rescue equipment rode the deck of the USS Bushnell as it raced for the crash site, but they wouldn’t arrive until the next morning. Upon arrival, they were met by gale-force winds, heaving seas and bitterly cold water. Down went the divers trying to attach oxygen lines to the sub. Heavy seas battered the divers, ripped the lines free and sent them back to the surface. More dives failed. The next morning two divers heard a message tapped out on the hull above the torpedo room: “Is there hope? Please hurry, please!” Time after time, the sea tore the oxygen lines free. One month later the bodies of the submariners were taken out to be buried with military honors.
The Rescue for you
The Lord Jesus Christ said, while suffering on a cross on Calvary’s hill outside Jerusalem, “All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over Me” (Psalm 42:7). He died to pay the penalty for sin that you and I are trapped under in order to bring the breath of life to us. He brings with Him the “hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Perhaps, as you read, you felt the tension of the trapped submariners’ desperate cry for help.