Can I ramble with you for a second? Lesia and I watched Gravity this past Sunday. We both can relate to Sandra B's character Ryan when she hits the sandy beach at the end of the movie. Baby steps for both of us for way different reasons, but deeply motivational and inspiring nonetheless.
One thing puzzled me. I couldn't figure out why Ryan had any purpose for living other than the biological will to survive. She had no family on earth, no one who cared about her (her own confession). Her daughter had tragically died at a young age in what should have been a common and non life-threatening accident. To cope, Ryan became consumed by work and mindless driving to pass the hours after work. She loved being in outer space because of the silence, an allusion perhaps to her feeling numb and detached.
In one of several climactical moments, Ryan, at wit's end, conceded to death and turned off the oxygen dispensers in the cabin in order to simply fall asleep. With impeccable timing and in an otherwise "spoofy" moment of the movie, the gentleman Matt (George C) who had hours before presumably died in order to save her life suddenly reappeared. (Picture Clarence getting George Bailey's attention from the rushing river in It's a Wonderful Life.) Here we have Matt knocking on the round cabin window amidst freezing temperatures and against all logical odds. He gets Ryan's attention all right.
Calm, collected, and humorous, Matt works his way into the cabin and nestles in as if he expects two o'clock tea. In a few reflective moments, he admonishes Ryan to choose life, to try to live. He beseeches her not to give up now in what has been one wild ride. That moment was critically pivotal to her, and suddenly, on a dime's turn, she became determined to live.
I didn't get it. I understand the otherwise altruistic motivation to survive that we muster when we have folks who need us and depend on us and we have purpose to serve others and do things for them, to sacrifice on their behalf. But if I thought my life had no relational connections or purpose, well, I'd probably check out, also. After Matt's pep talk, she still didn't have folks on earth, so why the renewed determination to live?
Lesia's insightful take was that Ryan had a rekindled will to live because Matt had died in order to save her. If she simply had given up after all they had been through, well, what would that say of Matt's sacrificial death on her behalf?
Lesia had summed up the Gospel!
I loved this thought! As a Christian, I would do better to remember that God has me here for reasons that even transcend my deeply personal and meaningful human relationships. Christ's death alone substantiates our value and purpose. Considering this profound mystery, I should do my very best not to take His death for granted.
Life is terribly difficult for most of us, and some have more than a fair share of hardship. Yet when trials beat us black and blue, we absolutely cannot give up. Yes, there is a biological drive to survive. Yes, there is a relational drive to live on behalf of others we love.
But the greatest motivator to persevere and take our stand ought to be foundationally sustained from the never ending gratitude we feel because Christ so loved us that He was willing to die for us -- come what may.
We surrender to God, but we never quit, no matter what earthly adversities we may face. When we find ourselves battle weary, gasping for oxygen, and crawling onto the shore, may we grasp the warm, wet sand between our fingers and fearlessly declare, "Thank you."
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