Salvation By Port-a-Potty (An Advent Reflection)

(For those on the email list for this blog, sorry for the repost. My database was reset yesterday and I lost this post. So I had to load it again.)

My favorite scene from the movie “Castaway” furnishes a great metaphor for Advent reflection. It’s the pivotal scene after Tom Hanks’s character has acclimated to life on the island. He’s given up trying escape. He’s tried to kill himself and failed. He has no hope of being rescued. His life has come to a dead end. He’s exhausted all of his options.

Then one day he wakes up and finds a surprise on the beach. A piece of a port-a-potty has washed ashore. (Salvation by Port-a-Potty) It’s large and flat and will work as the sail he needs on his raft to propel him over the dangerous barrier reef waves which have trapped him on the island. He builds his raft, escapes from the island and is eventually rescued by a ship. All of this AFTER he has given up.

He didn’t live in a closed system. There was always the possibility of something useful washing ashore.

Sometimes we find ourselves stranded on an island of hopelessness. We’ve given up on the life we once dreamed of living. No matter how hard we tried, no matter what opportunities we pursued, we still came to a dead end. With no fresh options on the horizon, we make peace with our predicament. This will be as good as it gets.

But we don’t live in a closed system either.

One day, out of the blue, a new opportunity washes ashore. It comes in the from of a phone call from across the country or an email from a complete stranger or a chance encounter at a coffee shop. Hope is resurrected and we’re given a chance to escape from the island. This is what makes life with God a wonder.

You never know what is going to show up on the beach.

If you’re about to give up, if you feel like you’ve run out of options, if the answer to the question “How long O Lord?” seems to be FOREVER, then hear the hopeful news of Advent. With each new day comes the possibility that God will show up and finally say, “No longer.”

“The steadfast love the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new everything morning. Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, “Therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

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