Don’t Abandon Ship

Croyle JourneyWhat we can learn from the Syrian boy who captured the world’s attention.

By John Croyle

So many people around the world have viewed the heart-wrenching image of the toddler who drowned off the coast of Greece. He and his father, mother, and brother were on a refugee boat fleeing Syria. They were trying to get to Canada where family members were waiting on them. If you have seen the picture—especially if you are a parent—there is no way to look at it and not feel pain in your heart.

When they interviewed the father, he was distraught and inconsolable. He described that night he lost his family. He said the boat capsized, and it was dark. He frantically searched for his wife and two sons in the five-foot seas. He then said the chilling words, “My children slipped through my hands.” They were five minutes into the short crossing from Syria to Greece. Regrettably, the result of this ill-fated journey was the body of this precious little boy washing up on the shores of the Turkish city of Bodrum. Personally, I cannot get the visual of this 3-year-old little boy laying facedown on the shore out of my heart and my mind.

Perhaps you are like me and asking, “What could have happened?” I have read several accounts of the tragedy. Every one of them shares one common fact—the captain abandoned ship and left the families in the small boat to make it on their own. Obviously, his decision cost lives. Twelve people were put in peril because someone who had a job—a responsibility—quit and left his post.

Many of us right now are asking, “How could he have quit?” But you know, Mom and Dad, for more than 41 years, our family has seen so many parents leave their posts, give up, and quit on their children. There are reasons and justifications. As you can imagine, the guilt-releasing excuses are endless.

There are many of you who are in a situation where you may not have abandoned ship physically, but you have left your post emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Perhaps you have delegated your job to another. Whatever the issue you face, and I have heard most all of them, I challenge you to go online and look at the picture of the little boy. After looking at that picture and letting the true significance sink in, ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can to take care of my family?”

This picture made me want to be a better “Poppy” to my grandsons and a better dad to our children, Reagan and Brodie. It also made me want to be a better husband to my wife, Tee. The Lord has called us as a family to pick up the drowning children of life and not only help them now, but also teach them how not to repeat history with their families in the future. How to break the cycle of neglect and abuse. That is what we do—rescue children every day!

Could I challenge you to evaluate if you have “abandoned your post?” If you know you have, then you are faced with the same choices this Turkish captain had.  You can weather the storm and help keep your family’s future positive. Or you can abandon ship because the storm has gotten tough. From experience, I can guarantee that if you don’t change, your family will end up facedown on the shores of life—maybe not so much physically but in other ways that are just as tragic.

If you know you need help, may I suggest you first ask the Lord to change your heart?  After being honest with God, then be honest with yourself, your wife or husband and, where appropriate, your children. It all starts with you! Don’t end up with your life’s epitaph as, “My children slipped through my hands.”

God is bigger than any storm you’ll face.  May we all be great captains!

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