(To read Day 16 #1, click here. To read Day 16 #2, click here. To find out more about what the LOST In 108 Words contest was about, click here, or you can get all the posts by going to DontTellMeWhatICantDo.com.)
I’ll try to keep this short since you don’t want my story, but rather the winning entry. I think some people will be surprised by the winning entry.
When I had the idea for this contest I wasn’t sure what I would be looking for with the winning entry. I was hoping it would be immediately clear after reading it. The first day brought a number of good entries and I thought it would be impossible to know right away. However, there was an entry that stuck with me the next day, and then the next day, and then…you get the idea.
When I initially read it I thought it could be the winner, but didn’t want to think that it would be because it was an early entry.
I should mention it was the 4th entry in the contest. 4. (Nice connection with Lost there.)
Reading the entry took me to a very specific time in my life. (Not that it was like this movie scene, but this scene came to mind yesterday when reflecting on this entry again.) I was a young missionary, a newly licensed pastor, and I was wrestling with my faith in God. (This was early in 1998.) Someone like me isn’t suppose to have these doubts, I thought. I wasn’t about to share with anyone what I was dealing with because I knew I’d be ridiculed (in the nice, Christian way), or the matter would be responded to in a manner that would have no connection with reality. A lot of Christian were fearful of Pokemon, at the time, and thought they could “name it and claim it” when it came to faith and prayer. These were some of the people I worked with at that time. Not everyone, just some. I’d be told condescendingly, by some of them, that I lacked faith when I was sick. Do you think I’m going to share about me wrestling with my faith in God? I watched how others would share doubts/fears/questions and get mocked.
Generally speaking, The Bible Belt has come a long way from the 90’s (and before) when they feared anything outside their church walls. Unfortunately, they did a lot of damage to a faction of young Christians that were just starting out, and worse they turned off the rest of the world that found them unaware and out-of-touch with reality. (Do we need to hear a sermon about the evils of Harry Potter when there is so much social injustice in our neighborhoods, cities and world?)
As Jacob wrestled with God, I had my own wrestling match with God at the time. It wouldn’t be the first time I wrestled with him. My time as a missionary made a difference, physically and/or spiritually, for people here in the United States and around the world. However, my time as a missionary was also marked by times of profound loneliness and doubts. Not just doubts in God, but doubts that I was doing the right thing. Doubts that I was going to live the rest of my life alone. Doubts that I’d ever have basic needs like food and shelter. (I didn’t have much early on in my missionary days.) Doubts that I was missing out in life. Doubts that my life was meaningful. I don’t know how many midnight conversations I had with God, outside, just wondering what the (bleep) was going on in my life.
You have a small window to look through and see a few of the reasons why Locke is my favorite character. I’ve had family, friends, people in general think that I’m just happy-go-lucky with my approach to life. While I haven’t said like this, I KNOW Locke’s words when he says to Jack, “It’s never been easy (to believe)!”
I know that sentiment. I know many others who know that sentiment. I know of others who have walked out in faith, like Locke did time and time again, and seemingly not be rewarded for their faith.
I also know the sentiment of what Locke said in the follow-up, “I can’t do this alone, Jack.” None of us can, but if we have no one to turn to…
I don’t know. I just know that scene really well. I know, like Locke, what it’s like to do everything in your power to live a life of faith to please someone. I know, what it’s like, to wrestle with those times where it seems your faith is not responded to. (One reason why I love The Hatch poster. Locke is at his end and, in my opinion, his faith is rewarded.)
So, that is a summary, and it truly is a summary, of some aspects of my life and faith. It’s why this entry resonated with me from the first time I read it, and why it still does today.
Here it is…
I lost my faith in 2002, and LOST has complicated my agnostic front. The struggle between Jack and Locke, between inheriting purpose for one’s life and the knowledge of its futility, embodies my struggle since 2002. I often feel like Locke, searching for meaning in pain. Jack’s incessant desire to succeed and fix, not because of its larger meaning but because of his complicated relationship to his dad, mirrors parts of my own journey toward agnosticism…denying a heavenly Father’s role in my life and still offering up the fruits of my success as proof that I’m better than him.
Christopher and I have emailed a few times. We chatted yesterday about Oral Roberts and his passing away. Christopher attended Oral Roberts University. Not too many people know about Oral Roberts anymore, but we do. We know that Bible Belt, Pentecostal style of Christianity.
One of my closest friends went to Oral Roberts University, around the same time as Christopher, and had some similar experiences unfortunately.
Christopher sent me a follow up entry that added a sentence to his original entry. The sentence being, “In the end, meaning remains elusive for all of us.” Elusive, yes, but I’d like to think meaning is not impossible to catch.
There you have it. An honest, vulnerable entry to the contest. Congratulations to Christopher Lee! Jacob’s Cabin is yours. Perhaps someday we can get some Dharma issued food and drink and hang out.