By Chris McCurley

The USS Indianapolis delivered the world’s first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945. At fourteen minutes past midnight, on July 30 1945, she was struck by two torpedoes from an I-58 Japanese submarine.

The first hit blew away the bow. The second one hit near the middle of the ship adjacent to the fuel tank and powder magazine. The resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out electrical power. Within minutes, the USS Indianapolis started sinking rapidly.

Of the 1,196 on board, approximately 900 made it to the water in the twelve minutes before she sank. They would remain in the water 4 days before they were accidentally discovered. It would be almost 5 days before survivors were pulled from the water. Of the 900 crew members who made it into the water, only 317 remained alive. They battled starvation, extreme thirst, exposure of salt water to their wounds, and constant shark attacks.

I cannot imagine such a plight. It makes me tremble when I put myself in their position, when I think about being one of those crew members, thrown from a sinking ship, floating in the middle of the ocean, the salt pouring into my open wounds, sharks surrounding me, my fellow crew members screaming in agony as the sharks devoured them alive. I think about the intense grumbling of my stomach due to a lack of food. My lips cracked and my throat so dry that I can hardly swallow. I think about my sunburned face, my wrinkled skin, and my dehydrated body. I can hardly fathom such a horrible ordeal.

I think about those who fell victim to the flood. Imagine what must have been racing through their minds as they witnessed the deluge of rain and the flood waters rise. What were their final thoughts as they gasped their last breaths? Did they reflect on Noah’s preaching; wishing they would have listened? Did they use those last few breaths to cry out to God? Think about what Noah must have been feeling. He had to have been relieved that he was spared, but I imagine that he also felt immense sorrow as he heard the screaming of those drowning and saw the lifeless bodies floating all around. If only they would have followed God.

A point we often miss when it comes to the story of Noah is the fact that he was a preacher. 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that Noah was “a herald of righteousness.” Unfortunately, he was a very unsuccessful preacher. Noah spent 100 years preaching and, yet, didn’t convert anyone. Actually, that’s not true. He converted his family. Noah deserves a lot of credit for the fact that he got his family on the boat. He took care of his primary responsibility.

Put yourself in Noah’s position. Imagine standing on the deck of the ark, looking out over the flood waters and knowing that, among the lifeless bodies floating on the surface, is your son or daughter. As devastating as the events surrounding the flood would have been for Noah, there must have been great comfort in knowing that his family was safe on the boat.

This life is hard. There is tragedy around every turn. The world has very little to offer in the way of wholesomeness and righteousness. However, the raging waters of life are navigated a little easier knowing that our family is safe in the arms of Jesus. Our first priority is to get our family on the boat.

How do we do this? I think Noah gives us some good insight. He was a man who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8).” He is described as “a righteous man, blameless in his generation (Genesis 6:9).” “Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9).” Noah stuck out like a sore thumb in an environment that was purely wicked. Like his great-grandfather, Enoch, Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:22 states, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” In a world that followed sin, Noah followed God. Think about the impact this must have had on his family. Noah was not perfect. He was not a flawless individual, but he lived for God in a day and age when others were living for evil.

I can remember when my son, Zane, was very small. He said to me, “Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” Tears welled up in my eyes, not because I was so proud that he would want to be like me, but because I knew what he didn’t know. I was not a perfect individual, and I’m still far from it. I certainly wasn’t a blameless and righteous man. Why would he want to be like me? I looked into his big, blue eyes and I said to him, “Son, don’t be like me. Be like Jesus.” And from that point forward I have tried to show Him what Jesus looks like. May God bless us all as we strive to get our families on the boat.

This article first appeared in Think magazine. To subscribe or for more information, click here.