The 'Necessities' We Think We Need

Article written by Pastor Rod for the October 5, 2003, Messenger

There's only one reason why Captain Cyrus Harding and his little band of men in the balloon ever made it to dry land instead of perishing at sea, and that was because they seriously re-examined the 'necessities' of life and cut some of them loose!

I'm talking about the characters in Jules Verne's marvelous novel: The Mysterious Island. Perhaps you've read it. 

The story begins in a Confederate war camp in Richmond, VA in the last days of the Civil War. Captain Harding and his men are prisoners of the Confederacy. When Harding notices an army observation balloon left carelessly unattended, he comes up with the idea of hijacking it and making an escape. 

In the middle of the night, Harding and his men sneak out to the balloon, load it with all the necessities of life, climb on board, cut the moorings and set themselves free, never expecting that the loftier winds would change direction and blow them immediately out over the Atlantic! 

As the hours go by, the balloon begins to descend and the men begin to worry about being dumped into the sea. Frantically, they start throwing things overboard to lighten the load: the most expendable things go first, of course: spare garments, overcoats, shoes, weapons. All of them are tossed and the balloon begins to rise. But not long after that, they find themselves dangerously close to the water again. This time, they decide to toss out their food. After all, it's better to go hungry than to drown! 

This, however, only provides a temporary solution. Before too long, the balloon is threatening, once again, to plunge into the sea. 

Then all of a sudden, one man comes up with an ingenious idea: let's cut loose the passenger-basket! By tying loops in the ropes that had suspended the basket, they could sit in the ropes for the remainder of the time! And so the very foundation they've been standing on is cut loose beneath them: they hang there mid-air as the basket goes plunging into the sea. 

But the balloon rises significantly this time, and shortly after that, they spot dry land: the 'mysterious' deserted island that eventually becomes their haven and their home! 

It's quite a story, full of heroics and adventure. Teenagers back in the old days just devoured this thing. They didn't have movies back then (published in 1874) but—guess what?—our kids were no worse off because of it. Not with N.C. Wyeth's beautiful illustrations, and a good imagination and the ability to read. In fact, I'd say they were richer; wouldn't you? 

But what a beautiful lesson the writer packs into the story! The 'necessities'—what our heroes thought they could not live without—turned out to be the burden that almost sent them to their doom! 

Did you know there is a verse in the Scriptures that tells us to do exactly what Captain Harding and his men did that day? The writer of He-brews tells us to:

"Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..." Heb 12:1 that we may finish safely the course that is set before us. 

So many times the things that hinder our walk with Christ are things we thought indispensable. 


It's amazing how unnecessary

necessity can be;

once we see it

in the light of Eternity.


The Bible makes a special point of cast-ing life's "necessities" in an entirely different light. What we consider indispensable, our Savior described as things that "moths destroy and rust corrupts" in the end. Mt. 6:19

And what about great achievement, fame, prosperity: all of which is so impressive in the world's eyes? Aren't they indispensable to a meaningful, successful life? Well, the Bible presents all that as built with wrong materials; nothing more than 'hay' and 'stubble', destined to be burned up in the end. 1 Cor. 3: 11-12

Remember the 'rich young ruler' who came to Jesus with such sincerity of heart,  hoping to find the secret to inheriting eternal life? Jesus felt great pity for him, for he was a good man. But He sent him away, saying, in effect: "Go! Throw off everything that hinders ... cast aside the 'necessities' you thought you always needed ... and then come and follow me."  Mt. 19:21

In the long run, only a few things are needed, dear Christian: a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ; a willingness to listen to His Word; and the ability to 'ask' from a Father who knows how to give 'good things' to His children! Mt 7:9

As far as I can tell, dear Church, you're stayin' aloft! And you have all the true necessities of life! 


See you Sunday.   RAS

His Work, Not Mine
Never in Vain! part 2