The Deserted Island
Written by Francis Loo Translated to Chinese by Evie Xiao
Imagine you are a sailor man on a voyage of discovery in ancient times. Your ship is destroyed by a violent storm. You are the lone survivor. Miraculously, the pieces of the ship debris to which you have been clinging since the ship went down washes ashore onto an uninhabited tropical island.
The lush island is full of fruits, nuts, and berries, an abundance of wildlife, and plenty of fresh water. There are caves to protect you from storms and animals. Physical survival is not a problem.
There is only one hitch. Not only are you the island’s only inhabitant, but no one knows that you are there. You are presumed to have been lost at sea. There is no reason whatsoever to assume that another ship will ever pass your way before you die. You will never see another human being for the rest of your life.
(The above storey is paraphrased from The Search for Meaning by Thomas H. Naylor, William H. Willimon & Magdalena R. Naylor)
From the fictitious grim situation, can you imagine how would you survive emotionally since then? What would you do? Is it possible to have a meaningful life without any human interaction? Would you rather die than live alone?
Not guessing your answers. I realize that this kind of fictitious situation is sometime real. Do we sometimes see certain people or even we ourselves unconsciously live on such a “Deserted Island?”
Christians or non-Christians alike, we go through different seasons in life. To evaluate our spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical consequences, we will find the meanings of life are diverse in each season.
We are actually in the lust of this world. Perhaps you may like to put yourself financially in the same position of a multimillionaire, or in the power of the President of the United States or King Solomon in Jerusalem. In Ecclesiastes, the king said:
Everything is meaningless
One day whatsoever we may possess in this world will become meaningless; Wisdom, knowledge academic degrees will be gone and during the span of life “… wisdom is meaningless … For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Our intellect may puff us up, thus it prevents us seeing the true light.
Pleasures are meaningless
King Solomon said, “…I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor, yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
Wisdom and Folly are meaningless
The wise and the fool are the same going to the same end and die and “…will not be long remembered;” and soon “…will be forgotten.”[All] must die!”
Toil is meaningless
King Solomon said, “…I must leave them to the one who come after me. and who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun.” This too is meaningless. In today’s context, many court cases of lawsuits relating to family disputes over estate we’ve seen are the common phenomenon.
Riches are meaningless
“…Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” We come from the dust and return to the dust.
Our experience in the meaninglessness in life leads us to spiritually despair, intellectual nihilism, emotional depression, physiological death; our social separation as a result leads us to spiritual detachment, intellectual alienation, and having emotional anxiety. And our craving for more will aggravate our spiritual orthodoxy, intellectual hedonism, emotional narcissism and physiological health fetishism. King Solomon reminded us as following:
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘find no pleasure in them’- before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop. When the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.
“Remember him — before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it….”
Put simply, we know one day – long or short – we will return to the ground as we are the dust but the spirit will return to God.
“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this are the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed to judgment including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Life is a trial through which we gradually learn the lesson of being transformed into a new life – a new being – by the grace of God. If we do not know God who is the creator of our life and this world, there is no hope and life is meaningless for one day all things shall come to the end. But for the believers whom Jesus Christ has redeemed, in the providence of God, the in-dwelling Holy Spirit will groom our spirits and intellects, with emotional balance and physiological homeostasis. Life then becomes meaningful, purposeful and abundance.
Let us pray–
Thank you for hearing our prayers. We are poor in spirit. We are weak. We want to see you more, but we have only limited sight. We would ask for wisdom to know you better. We ask you to pour your love, joy and peace on us. We ask for your kind, gentle and sincere guidance. Dear Lord, please give us eyes to see, ears to listen and sensitive hearts to feel. We want to dwell in the House of God for ever In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.
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