In this series, we look at the current LifeHouse Theater production (“Treasure Island”) through the lens of the Christian perspective.
I’ve always felt more comfortable in water than on land. From a very early age, I loved to swim and surf. I’ve jumped off a speed boat, the Newport Pier, and a Hawaiian cliff. But it wasn’t until my second year in college that I learned how terrifying the water can be.
Angry and Untamed
I was living in Bend, Oregon: a hip little town with a blue river flowing through it called the Deschutes. In the summer, everyone would grab a tube and lazily float down the river. For most of the way, the water was calm and happy, traveling at a pace even a child could enjoy. But if you traveled up the coast, you’d find the river angry and untamed.
That particular day I was restless and extra arrogant, so I grabbed my friends and drove to where the rapids lived. Only the trees and boulders saw us slip into our rafts and into the current. (The picture above is not of Bend, Oregon, but it looks like it!) In my inflatable tube, I sailed down the river…for about 15 seconds. Because as soon as I met the first boulder of the first rapid, my raft flipped.
Since I didn’t have a helmet or lifejacket…or common sense…the rapid grabbed me and plunged me to the bottom of the river bed into the heart of its hydraulic cycle. Somersault after somersault, I had no idea what was up and what was down, what was right and what was left. Any time I’d try to push off the floor to reach the surface, my feet would flail into the Oregon air.
Our lives can feel like this, can’t it? One moment we’re floating and the next we’re caught in a rapid, wondering where’s the floor and where’s the surface. King David, the Psalmist, captures this when he asks God, “Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters…” There are many times in our show when the characters feel lost and desperate too. “I’ve somehow lost my way—” prays Young Jim, “What should I do? What is really true?”
As you know, I didn’t die that day in the Deschutes River. Why? God rescued me. I eventually found the river floor and pushed myself to the surface and back into the rapids. All I wanted now was to find a boulder. I finally found one and crawled up it like a pathetic fool, thanking God for his mercy. I can better understand now what David meant when he wrote, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress…”
Jesus said the wise man builds his home on rock, which is God’s word. As “Treasure Island” teaches, there will be many times when we will feel lost at sea, off course, chasing foolish things. And it is the wise man who cries as you do, “Lord, Protect us. God, please direct us.” And that will be my prayer for you, whether the water is peaceful or violent, you will plant yourself in God, our rock and our guide.