Sunday, August 10, 2014

Naked and Afraid

When I first saw a commercial for the show Naked and Afraid, I thought it was ridiculous.  Then I watched an episode, and I got hooked.  I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode so far.

If you haven't seen the show, let me tell you a little about it before I tell you why I'm bringing it up.

One man and one woman are dropped off in a remote location (Madagascar, the Amazon, Belize, etc.).  They have to take off all their clothes, and they are each allowed to have one survival item.  Most common survival items are a knife or hatchet, a fire starter, or a pot for boiling drinking water.  The couple, who meet each other for the first time once they are naked at their location, have to survive for 21 days and then go to a predetermined extraction point.

The survivalists have to build a shelter, find drinking water of some sort, build a fire, and find some sort of food.  Some people are unable to make fire, which means they can't boil water for drinking or cook animals for food.  Some people can't make an adequate shelter to protect them from rain, wind, extreme temperatures, or bugs.  Some people have contracted weird illnesses and had to be rushed to get emergency medical assistance.  Some people tap out before Day 21 because they can't take the conditions, discomfort, dehydration, or starvation.

I am fascinated by the interaction of the two people.  I've seen some pairs work together beautifully and make it to the end, vowing to stay friends because of what they have accomplished.  I've seen some pairs threaten to go their separate ways for the remainder of the challenge because they just can't seem to work together. 

It's interesting to see how people handle the challenges presented to them through climate, lack of food or water, inability to create fire, etc.  I love when a team has been struggling and then they finally get a fire going or find some great food source.  Sometimes they are so dehydrated that they're dizzy and near passing out, and then they finally find a source of good, clean water.  They passed up potentially dangerous pools of water and walked for miles to a clean waterfall or waited until they could boil water to make it safe to drink.  And then they take that glorious drink of water.  It's the best thing they've ever tasted.  I love to see their reaction when they finally get the thing they needed so badly and worked hard or waited patiently to get.

Why am I talking about this show that half of you probably think sounds completely weird and the other half of you are looking up to see when you can watch it?  Because I'm spiritually parched.  I've been fighting spiritual battles on behalf of the people God has called me to care for.  I've been beat down by the elements of church goers not behaving like brothers and sisters in Christ.  I'm trying to build a fire, but it keeps getting put out.  I thought I knew the terrain of the land around me, but it seems to keep changing.

So I go to the Source of living water.  I get that glorious drink, and it's better than anything I've ever tasted.

But just like those survivalists who have to continue to seek more water every single day and more wood to keep their fires going, I have to continue to seek God.  I have to come back to Him daily to sustain me and strengthen me.  Some days I think I'm doing pretty well and I just keep going on my own.  I pay for it later when I realize how worn out and weary I am. 

At the end of the 21 days in the wilderness, the survivalists have always lost a fairly significant amount of weight.  The show displays pictures of them over the 21 days and gives a total of how many pounds they lost.  I always imagine what it's like when they eat a full meal for the first time.  That must feel like the best meal ever.

My getaway with Jared was like that feast at the end of the 21-day famine.  It was a long-time coming, and it was so so so good.

Then we came back to real life.  Back to responsibilities.  Back to demands and requests and unexpected responses.  Back to never ending to-do's and not enough hours in the day.  Back to doing what we need to do and rarely what we want to do.  We're back in the challenge.

The survivalists who make it to the end of their 21-day challenge all take away something different from their experience.  My favorites are the ones who take a way a new respect for their partner or the realization that their way isn't the only way or gratitude for all that they have.  I'm desperately trying to figure out what God is trying to teach me through my challenges.  I know He wants to take me to a deeper level of faith, a more authentic love for people, and a way of living that is more dependent on Him.

Most days I feel like the survivalist who teaches primitive fire skills for a living and is sure he has made his bow drill correctly, but somehow here in the wilderness, his bow drill just isn't producing a coal to make a fire.  I swear I'm doing everything correctly, but it's just not producing the fruit I had hoped for.  I think I need to go back to my survival basics.  It's time to approach God bare, hiding nothing, and let Him teach me how to navigate the place where He has put me.  He is my partner.  He has everything I could possibly need to not just survive, but to thrive.  I'm so worn out, and I want to live my days in a way that's so far beyond just surviving.

Recently, God gave me a verse to cling to:

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  Isaiah 43:19
I have been waiting for what feels like a very long time for Him to do some new things.  In the meantime, new things I didn't really want have come to fruition.  Rather than waiting for a grand change, I am learning to see each day as a new thing.  Today God will renew my spirit.  Today God will help me to see my situations from a new perspective.  Today God will give me a new chance to rely on Him.  Today God will be the stream in my desert.


1 comment:

  1. I just love you cousin. Your post was beautiful and I have to admit, the title definitely got my attention! :)