In December 2014, millions of viewers watched as snake expert Paul Rosolie put on a modern-day suit of armor for the purpose of being ingested by an Amazonian anaconda. It all went just about as badly as possible, really. The Discovery Channel may have sunk to a new low when they promised the intrigue of a person being eaten by a snake and perhaps surviving it live television (here’s the link – you’re welcome).
They looked for the snake, couldn’t find it, settled for a smaller anaconda and then about three quarters of the way through the show, fed poor Mr. Rosolie to the snake. The snake squeezed him for a few minutes until Rosolie cried “uncle” saying the pressure of the snakes’ jaw on his suit was just a little too much for him.
I mean he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer so feeding himself to a snake was his first wrong turn but….when the chips were down, this guy and his little suit of armor, totally bailed!
And I think the same thing happens to us in life when we are being consumed by it without the right tools for getting through it. Too big a snake and too little armor.
I have this crazy memory of when my dad was ill almost exactly 2 years ago. One night late after a day of lots of testing and no answers, the doctor called my cell phone. (It’s 9PM on a Friday night and my dad’s doctor is calling – not the best sign.) He wanted to unpack all that was so clear on the scans…cancer…stage 4…months, not years left…all that pain and all those health questions….answered.
And I felt like I was the only one in the whole wide world with the information. I was overwhelmed…reeling. But you wanna know what else I felt?:
The weight and the size of this revelation was WAY TOO BIG for me
WAY TOO BIG to manage,
WAY TOO BIG to control,
WAY TOO BIG to handle.
WAY TOO BIG
so I just sat.
I thanked God for the answer even though the answer contained tragedy.
And for the next few days as we walked through the process of my dad dying, I was very…well….worshipful…
When I told this story to Megan she thought of the opening lines to a song we love:
Oh, I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone
At some point in life, we must reckon with this quiet, powerful, moment in time when nothing we’ve tried worked…when we’ve exhausted all your own efforts.
Are we prepared for moments like this?
Do we have a suit of armor that will help us withstand the pressure and the pain of life?
We have lots of ways to go. Lots of potential answers…right?
We can go get drunk. We can go shopping. We can obsess over our computers or phones so that we don’t think about things that hurt.
Lots and lots of options….but most are like weak suits of armor that will make us "tap out" under pressure.
As I was helping my mom get into the car on that dark and fateful day I realized I had forgotten my coat inside the house. This is a regular occurrence but a not-so-regular day – the day she would visit her husband in the hospice unit – hours before he would pass from this earth.
So I went back into the house to retrieve my coat on that chilly March day. I unlocked the door to the house, made my way inside, looked around for a few minutes and finally found it. And as I was coming back out to the car, I could hear the sound before I ever even opened the car door.
It was a familiar sound, A LOVELY SOUND but it was jarring to my senses nonetheless….
It was my mom singing.
She sang Great is Thy Faithfulness at the top of her lungs…
…in the car, waiting for her daughter so we could go to see her dying husband.
….”I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.”
What a thing to sing on a day like that.
I think her years and years of faith and belief in Jesus prepared her for this dark day. Armor that would prove purposeful when the pressure was on.
You see, it is SO valuable to choose what you believe and use it. The years and years that we have to learn, hash out and investigate our faith will have the benefit of giving us true armor to rely on in the difficult times.
But don’t let me be the only voice here….did you watch that guy get eaten by a snake on the Discovery channel? Did it cause you to ponder the existential question of whether you’re prepared for life’s challenges? What’s life like for you right now? Are you feeling like your armor is holding up?