Monday, May 30, 2011

Musings on a submarine

Last Friday night Emmett and I spent the night on the USS Cobia with 30 other fathers and sons (multiple sons in most cases) from the Boys Brigade at my church. The Cobia is docked on the Manitowoc river in Manitowoc, WI and is adjacent to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. The really cool thing is that you can get a tour of the submarine and spend the night on it. Which we did! Of course, if you have claustrophobia, this might be your worse nightmare. I have to say, though, that the American subs were much more spacious than their German U-Boat counterparts.

Some thoughts I had as we drove up and back.

1. I, and several of the other men, expressed amazement at how complex a WWII submarine is. It almost boggles the mind. The endless wirings and gauges, levers, machinery, the sheer size and weight of some of the devices on board (a torpedo weighs over a ton and there were 24 on board, not to mention the engine with it's huge rods and pistons, the subs 2 gigantic batteries with 126 cells apiece, etc.) leave one virtually speechless. We learned that by the end of the war a sub could be built in only 6 months! Truly man is an amazing creature in both his imagination and execution. That, of course, led me to my next thought; the One who created the mind that designed such a magnificent war tool. Man is God's creation and everything that man imagines or creates originates in the mind of that great and awesome God, the only God. That can only leave you grasping vainly for a way to comprehend the infinite mind of our God:

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?"
(Isaiah 40:12-14; also, Job 38-42; Psalm 8, 19, 130, et al)

2. As we learned about the men who manned these deadly machines of war, I was once again filled with gratitude for the service of those who gave (in many cases) their all in order that I and my family and others might live in safety and freedom (yes, our freedom and safety ultimately are from the hands of our sovereign God who cares for us through many different means, not the least of which is to raise up men who serve and protect our nation). The tour guides mentioned subs that were "lost" or "sunk" or "came to their eternal rest in watery graves" which all sounded so clean and romantic. However, if you allowed yourself to go there, you can imagine what the end was like for the men who went down with their submarines as the oxygen was used up or the sub's hull crumpled inward under the inexorable outside pressure of the ocean as it plummeted to the bottom on it's fatal dive. Not sure which I would prefer, death by suffocation, or having my lungs and internal organs explode. Yes, let it sink in and be thankful.

3. I really enjoyed being with my son on this trip, watching him interact with the other boys and watching him tour the sub (the pics show him manning the 3" gun on the deck and examining the control center of the forward torpedo room up by the tubes). He is 11 now and I cannot imagine how he even got to this age. It's true what people say... "In no time at all..." Pretty soon he will be a man. It is easy for me to start second-guessing myself during this time as to how well I have trained him and prepared him for the world. If I am honest, I know that it is a mixed bag of some good examples and a lot of bad examples, unfortunately. Ultimately, I am trusting in the Lord, that He is at work in Emmett. He is the only one who can truly work in Emmett and give Him a new heart that wants to love and worship Him. Only God can rescue Emmett and carry Him safely to the end. I cannot do these things. The fact that God is also at work in Emmett's dad is what helps me to rest in that truth. (Raising our children and trusting them to God is a whole topic in itself, so I will stop here and maybe revisit in a future post.)
So, a great experience for Emmett and for his dad. One thing, though, is the smell of diesel oil. After we got home we reeked of it and our clothes, sleeping bags and pillows were permeated with it. We aired out the pillows and sleeping bag, washed the clothes and showered and the smell is gone.
It was a great experience to sleep on a sub for a night... but only just for a night.

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