It’s not easy to think differently from the crowd. Often our education and culture encourages conformity even though in this modern age many experts, psychologists, business gurus and others write and speak about the importance of listening to our own inner drum. We probably have Robert Frost – “The Road not Taken” (1920) – and M. Scott Peck – “The Road Less Traveled” (1978), among others, to thank for a lot of opportunities we have today to be different if we so choose.
A century ago, when conformity was even more common, a young man did take a “road less traveled.” Doing so saved his life the night the Titanic sank.
That young man was Lawrence Beesley. His astonishing survival – only 14% of men in second class lived – from the sinking of the Titanic is retold by his grandson, Nicholas Wade in a recent New York Times Science Section. It’s part of the commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the great ship’s demise.
Mr. Wade’s article shares how, after the ship met the iceberg, his grandfather read and re-read the 91st Psalm. Then, instead of following a rumor that caused the large group of men with which Beesley was standing to go over to the other side of the ship, he stayed put. Shortly, he was asked to join a life boat leaving from the deck below him. Wade concludes, “… I owe my existence to the fact that in those few critical moments he had the confidence to think differently from the crowd.”
Many of us have had experiences – sometimes in what seem dire situations – when we heard a thought to do something contrary than those around us. For me, and many people of faith, such intuitions are sometimes referred to as “angel messages.” The Bible says the prophets heard God’s voice speaking directly to them as you and I might hear one another during a conversation.
We may never face something as life-threatening as the Titanic. But we may feel at one time or another, an intuition or angel message from God leading us in a less common way than most would take. Our challenge is to get better and better at responding to them.