Three themes this summer seem to be emerging that characterize a standard, summer day: Biblical Hebrew, Planet Fitness, and the mysterious television series, Lost. I’m a latecomer to most TV shows, as my wife and I do not have cable or anything that would allow us to join in the fun of watching a show on a regular basis during its popular run. Still, the local library carries the Lost DVDs, and since I never finished the series, here we are. I would like to say that in between Hebrew study breaks I watch an episode or so, but that’s not true. It’s more like in between Lost breaks I study Hebrew. It’s too intense and crazy to stop watching. This brings us to our post for the day. There is a scene at the beginning of Season 2 that brought a couple of tears to my eyes and gives us some wonderful, analogical truth. But first, for those not familiar with Lost, a brief overview is necessary.
Lost is a show about a band of plane crash survivors. Their plane breaks apart somewhere over the ocean between Sydney, AU and L.A. After the pilots switch course and lose radio communication (ensuring that anyone who looks for them will, indeed, be looking in the wrong place), the plane splits in half, and those not in the back half find themselves stranded on a seemingly deserted island where things just get wackier and wackier. Among the merry band of survivors is Rose, a lady who insists that her husband is still alive, despite the fact that he was in the back of the plane when it split apart. Her sweet disposition is enough to deter anyone from really confronting her of the reality of her husband’s death, and so she continues, despite a large elephant in the room, to believe in his surviving.
It is impossible to exhaustively explain anything about the show (I’m sure the writers don’t know everything about what they’ve written), but towards the end of Season 1, the leaders of the survivors manage to blow open a mysterious hatch sealed from the inside in the jungle floor. What do they find inside? Crazy stuff, more crazy stuff, and a lot of food. The question becomes, “What do we do with all this food?” Of course it takes an episode to find that out, but the leaders decide to throw a little shindig (a party) for everyone. In the midst of rejoicing and celebrating, the camera pans to Rose as she sits by herself. As it comes to rest on her, we see her take an Apollo candy bar (specific to the world of Lost) and tuck it away. Why would Rose tuck away a candy bar? Well, earlier on we find out that Rose’s husband has quite the sweet tooth, but she doesn’t. When the turmoil, disorientation, and island intrigue have stopped for a moment, we find Rose, sitting by a fire and thinking of her husband, tucking away a candy bar for him and their reunion. It’s this shot, more than any other, which has, so far, unraveled me.
I have a wife like Rose: constantly loving me in the little things. From head and back scratches, baked goods (hence the Planet Fitness membership), little texts, dinner, and the like, she is consistently out-doing me in the little things. Her love blesses me in its wake and challenges me in my complacency. Lost, and more importantly, my wife, give me analogical truth, truth which mirrors a greater truth: God cares and thinks of us. He loves His beloved bride, and without worshipping her, allows His thoughts to linger on her and to perform for her small and large things which will finally reunite them one day and make things all the sweeter, sweeter, in fact, than any candy bar. The Scripture teaches that God cares for His people: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:6-8). The Scripture teaches us that He thinks of His bride (Psalm 40, Psalm 8). Furthermore, how can Christ intercede for us if His thoughts do not rest upon us (Romans 8:34)? God has proven His care and devotion to us climactically in the Incarnation, where Christ, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” (Phil. 2:6-8).
I can think of some major reasons why I’m not like Rose or my wife (and certainly not like Jesus), why I struggle to turn my thoughts to another in the little and big things. Perhaps firstly, I often think that my time is too precious to be bothered with thoughts of another. Thinking and doing things for others takes time, time that I’m selfishly and oftentimes not willing to give. Another dimension may be that I feel the need to look out for “number one”: me. Maybe I don’t feel secure, so how could I seek to make another feel secure and loved when I’m drowning in my own insecurity? It all reduces to this: I forget that what Christ has done is both the motivation to love and example to follow. In a much greater way than Rose or my wife, God has demonstrated His constant care and love for His people in assuming human flesh in the person of Christ. The simple fact of the Incarnation is proof. But even more than the Incarnation, Christ lived His life for and then died in behalf of His bride. In light of His resurrection, He now intercedes for her, thinks of her, and loves her until the end of time. He counted His time (a timeless eternity) worthy enough to sacrifice for His bride and, because of that, has rescued me from my slavery to self. His Incarnation has eternally secured me, freeing me up to love others with increasing fervor, devotion, and lavishness because I no longer need to hoard anything for myself, having been given everything I need in Christ. More than any candy bar, more than any human thought, God’s love for His people is of the variety that serves not only as an example to follow but motivates by its very nature as well. This is the point of the Philippians 2 passage: because Christ has loved and served us, we are now freed to love and serve others (and commanded to do so). His love is both the power to love and the example to follow. It’s only because of His devotion that we can even think of being devoted to another. It’s only because of His sacrifice that we can even dream of sacrificing. In the wake of Apollo bars, Lost, and the wonderful love of my wife, I’m left with this: Our God cares. We have something so much better than a candy bar.
How can we love others better today? What little things can we tuck away for someone else’s enjoyment? How can we respond to Christ?