The Life-Saving Station: A Cautionary Tale
This is an old story that I read a few years back. Warning: It may make you uncomfortable. It's not my intention to be negative, but I think this story brings out some interesting points — not so much about the church — but about our human nature as people. Check out the questions for reflection at the end.
On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.
Some members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.
Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as sort of a club.
Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club's decorations, and there was a miniature lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities, since they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.
As I reflected on the questions below, I did my best to answer for myself without thinking about what other people are doing. Hopefully you will do the same for yourself.
1. What was the original purpose of the life-saving station?
2. What was the original purpose of the church that Christ set up?
3. Am I PERSONALLY living that original purpose? Why or why not?
4. How did the life-saving station change over time? Were the changes for the better or for the worse?
5. What are the most important things I should do as a member of The Church? How much time and effort do I PERSONALLY put into those activities?
6. Do I PERSONALLY act like I belong more to a life-saving station or an exclusive club?
7. How does the story of the life-saving station compare to the story of the early church in Alma 4:1-15?
Summer Reading Challenge Daily Assignment
2 Nephi 24-25
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