I was cleaning out some old VHS tapes a few days ago and found a recording of a final episode of “Survivor”. In it, two men were competing to go forward to the final and the grand prize of $1m.
They had been friends and allies for the entire season. One was a NYC Firefighter, the other worked with aquatic mammals. The challenge was to see who could stand on a narrow-ledged pole for the longest. Watching paint dry would have been more riveting under different circumstances. The dolphin trainer/conservationist had done something that the fireman regarded as a betrayal – I forget what. The winner of this challenge would almost certainly – given their final opponent – win the million dollar prize.
After several hours – yes, hours – standing on the poles, an occupational requirement for both men to the point that we probably could still have been there now had the incredible not happened.
Ian, the dolphin guy, began to talk to Tom, the fireman. They argued back and forth about what true friendship meant and how one had been playing the game and the other had been forging what he expected to go on to be a lifelong friendship. The conversation – the highlights anyway – was broadcast. Tom felt hurt that Ian had gone back on his word. He saw it as a betrayal. Ian weighed the pro’s and cons of the situation and decided the friendship was worth more than the grand “prize”. He told Tom this and dived off the pole.
Tom won the million dollars, but I saw something in this deeper than that.
Ian realised that having Tom as a friend was worth more than having a cheque for a million dollars.
It set me thinking about my schooling. Much of my education was classical history, including the story of Pyrrhus, a Greek General who led many successful campaigns against the expanding Roman army, but at great loss to his own. He is reported to have said following one victory: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined”.
Tom’s win was, to my mind, a Pyrrhic Victory. He may have won the challenge, but I felt he sacrificed the nobility and character he had shown through the series in order to attain it. As I saw it, Ian was the Victor. His honour and respect was not only intact but was strengthened by the display of his character. A long-term friendship with – to be fair – a decent, honest and apparently trustworthy man was worth more to him than the prize money, so he gave up that financial win for a longer lasting victory.
What does that have to do with us as Christians?
The Bible sets out the moral and just Laws of God and how we are to receive Salvation and become “more than conquerors” in our lives. We claim the Victory of Christ Crucified.
Alternatively, we have modern society which challenges the teachings of the Bible that have stood for 2000 years in the case of the New Testament alone, in excess of 5000 for the Old Books of Moses and the Histories.
In modern terms, we “win” if we support society’s norms and values, twisting scripture to find a way to justify pretty much anything as being God’s Will just like the slavery traders, the inquisition, the crusaders, witch hunts and a myriad of other obscenities inflicted on mankind by men who yearned for power like the Ring Wraiths in Tolkein’s masterpiece “The Lord of the Rings”.
Victory, however, is more elusive. It’s a narrow path. I heard it said recently that the fact we sing of a “Highway to Hell” and a “Stairway to Heaven” says a lot about expected traffic volumes.
Victory can be found in the pages of Volumes 1 and 2 of “Jesus Freaks and the Voice of the Martyrs” books and the work of the Voice of the Martyrs which continues today. Dozens, if not hundreds of men and women who are named and held up as an example of what it truly means to be a Christian underwent torture, imprisonment and brutal deaths over the last 2000 years are recorded in the books alone. In the eyes of the World, these people lost. They lost their lives, their homes, families, reputations. They gave them willingly to honour their Jesus.
They held a Victory more powerful than the “win” the World accomplished.
It’s time for a new generation of witnesses to rise up and challenge the direction of the World.
I’m a Generation X baby. I was alarmed to find recently that the mother of a friend in her mid twenties is actually younger than I am. I still feel like I’m 25 and ready to fight, even though it’s nearly 20 years ago that I was that age.
Generation Y, a lost generation even more than my own, has no clue how to innovate in general. At least Gen X has produced some advances. Gen Y seems to sit back. Many of the twenty-somethings I speak to have dreams but then end their statement with “but I guess I’ll never get there”. They’ve been taught to settle.
That’s the Enemy’s voice.
Settling brings a short-term win. A passive life where you accomplish nothing of true value.
A man I met a few times in the 1990’s passed away recently. He was in his 70’s so I guess he’d be a “Baby-Boomer”. He had such a passion for life and he used it to propagate his faith in his friend Jesus. Dave was larger than life. He was physically an imposing figure – and I’m not a small man – and exuded enthusiasm and life wherever he went. He treated everyone the same from meeting World Leaders in private audiences to teaching a group of teenagers. He described himself as the “Warm-up act for the Holy Ghost”. And his witness was unrelenting. His message uncompromising.
I aspire to be the kind of man Dave Duell was. Fearless and passionate. A real Ambassador for Jesus Christ.
Where are the Generation X and Generation Y replacements for men like Dave?
I long to be one. It’s why I write and why I want to be able to speak with the passion I have in my heart. I want to go out into the world and fight on God’s terms. I’m sick of waiting for the fight to come to me. I was reminded by a friend writing to me recently that I’ve never been Spiritually or physically stronger than when I’ve been at the front of the battle. I was also reminded – gently – that my current depleted state probably resides in sitting back and letting someone else fight for me.
I won for a short time in the World’s terms. Financial comfort and the trappings that go with it drew me away from noticing I was slowly less and less involved with God. Then those worldly wins dried up and I was left with nothing but crippling debt and poor health. It’s a long way back out of a hole like that.
God does the impossible as a matter of routine. My situation changes daily. I experience victories regularly and setbacks often. Losing my focus on Christ even a little has cost me a lot. Ten years of my life have gone that I’ll never get back.
But God can overturn the World’s Win and replace it with His Victory.
If I let Him.
It’s hard to do, but I’m doing it. I’ve been writing here and on my own blog for a few years now and I’m looking into registering my own ministry, Eagle’s Wing Ministries, as a Faith Based Organisation (not for profit) as I am now being approached to write leadership courses and raise funds to help people get basic items like clothes and Bibles in their own languages. Not to mention food.
I hope by Christmas I’ll be registered. I’ll continue to write as I believe that is a BIG part of my calling, but I find my heart being pulled to do more, to work 100% for Jesus, not just give Him what’s left at the end of the day. It’s 3am here as I’m writing this. I need to be able to do this as my main work. To move into my Victory.
I’m tired of just “winning”. Winning has brought me nothing but heartache.
It’s time to become more than a conqueror and walk in the Victory Jesus bought for me.
Join me. To quote Dav
e Duell: “It’s only Forever”
Join me and let’s turn the tide back against the World.