Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keep Breathing

"We both had done the math. Kelly added it all up and... knew she had to let me go. I added it up, and knew that I had... lost her. 'cos I was never gonna get off that island. I was gonna die there, totally alone. I was gonna get sick, or get injured or something. The only choice I had, the only thing I could control was when, and how, and where it was going to happen. So... I made a rope and I went up to the summit, to hang myself. I had to test it, you know? Of course. You know me. And the weight of the log, snapped the limb of the tree, so I-I - , I couldn't even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over *nothing*. And that's when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that's what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I'm back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass... And I've lost her all over again. I'm so sad that I don't have Kelly. But I'm so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"

There are a couple of good things that have to do with movies living here in Honduras. First, bootleg DVD's are everywhere. It is possible to get a movie on video from the guy wandering around the gas station a day or two after it was released in theaters. Really. We rented Wallstreet, the new one, I believe on the same weekend it came out in the states.

The other thing is when you catch movies in English on TV, usually older movies but when you come across them it's like running into an old friend. Like Cast Away. We found that the other night and I had forgotten just what a great movie it is. Tom Hanks was incredible and I always wondered why he never won the Oscar that year. You could feel his absolute utter despair and the abandonment of all hope as he lay on the deteriorating raft weeping for the loss of Wilson, his sole companion for 4 years. You feel his heart breaking again as he says to Kelly "you have to go home". How does a person keep going when life seems to be filled with only discouragement and despair? Is it through sheer determination and will power, or is there something else that presses us on?

Brian on the jumbotron speaking at
Missions Connexion Northwest
Brian left last week to spend 10 days in Oregon and was asked if, while there, he would preach a message about persevering when the storm clouds of life seem to come and stay. This was a timely topic for him to dig into the word of God and speak on as those storm clouds have been hanging around, black and thick, for a couple of months now. Awhile back I wrote about the murders of 3 guys that were former or current tech school students. The reality is still difficult to accept, every time I drive through Barrio Buenos Aires I almost expect to see Eduardo walking down the street. The finality of death, of any death, is so incomprehensible, so contrary to what we are, an affront to the life that is in us. When a life, or lives in this case, are taken so brutally it just compounds the difficulty in coming to terms with it.

And it makes me angry. These guys had a chance to make it, the opportunity to change their lives was laid out before them week after week and yet they continued to choose to live in darkness. At first I was besieged with the “what if’s”, wondering if there was anything we could have done differently to avoid this tragic end, but I know that ultimately it was their choice. Utterly sad and disappointing, but the choice was theirs.

Only a few short weeks later came another disappointing blow. Juan Carlos has been with the Tech school since the inception. Brian had the privilege of sharing Christ with and baptizing him and they have grown close over the last few years. But coming to Christ does not simply erase the effects of sin in our lives prior to being born again and Juan was finding that reality hard to manage. He lived on a roller coaster of sorts, doing well and staying focused for about 2 months, then falling into depression and confusion, dabbling in the old life, performing poorly in class or failing to show up at all. Three times he had been counseled and allowed to continue in the program, and 3 times he fell back into the pit. Things came to a boiling point in December when, during one of these depressive episodes, he threatened to shoot one of the other students in the head. He was suspended for a week and then spent some time at a spiritual retreat, hoping to return back on track, but not being able to do so. Heartbreakingly, Brian had to remove him from being shop foreman.

We held a meeting with him and told him that in order to return to the school, only as a student, he would need to begin working with a psychotherapist to get to the root cause of the emotional roller coaster he was living on and learn new coping skills to deal with the problems life was and would throw at him. We encouraged him that although many people see counseling as a sign of weakness, it is actually a gift from God. Brian took out his pocket knife and said “if I cut my arm open with this knife, would I just stand here bleeding and say ‘God will close up and heal this wound’? No, I would go to the hospital and be treated by people that have been gifted by God and educated to heal. It is the same with emotional wounds and scars, God has gifted certain people to help us heal from them and deal with the trials of life.” He was given the weekend to decide which way to go, and he turned the offer down. The first “son” walked away. Like the 3 before, the choice is his to make; utterly sad and disappointing, but his. We haven’t heard from him since.

Discouragement. Despair. It began to feel as if our work here was futile, pointless, and in the end not going to make a difference. The storm clouds were raging. Brian began to work on his sermon and came across a book I’ve had for years. He says he never even noticed it before, but for some reason he reached down to pick it up and in the pages of “Six Hours One Friday”, he found what he needed. Max Lucado writes about the final hours leading up to the crucifixion of Christ and makes 3 points about the discouragement and despair that could be seen: 1) our lives are not futile; 2) our failures are not fatal; and 3) our death is not final.

Christ’s ministry was a mere 3 years and as he hung bleeding from the cross his followers surely thought it had been futile, all for naught. Certainly it wasn’t as 2000 years later there are an estimated 2,039 million professed Christians throughout the world. What about Christ’s failures, or what we in ministry might consider a failure, like the rich young ruler that asked Him “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Not liking what Christ said he made his choice to turn and walk away, back to his old life; a “failure” for the young ruler perhaps, but certainly not for Christ who continued in ministry gaining more and more followers. Last, there is death with it’s finality…or is it? It certainly wasn’t for Jesus as 3 days later those women stood drop jawed at an empty tomb. It isn’t final for the rest of us either, but only the beginning of eternity.

So how do you keep going when life seems to be full of discouragement and despair? Go into deeper waters (draw closer to the Lord), set your anchor deep (firmly rooted in Christ Jesus), and ride out the storm (keep breathing).   Hollywood isn’t full of very much wisdom, but I certainly like what Tom had to say. “I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?" The sun will rise, there will be another day, and you just never know what God has planned for it.



Anonymous said...

So good. Thank you Natasha for sharing what God is doing and teaching you so we can learn too...

- Jess O'Donel

Natasha said...

Thanks Jess, God is good. All the time.

Odoyle77 said...

Thank you so much for your honesty, you are greatly loved and appreciated. Keep sharing please, it's good to know how to pray for you :).

Matt O

Laurie Matherne said...

Good blog post. One note: most bootleg DVDs are distributed by organized crime rings.

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