Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Life Boat Theory

Imagine a lifeboat adrift at sea.  In the lifeboat are a male lawyer, a female doctor, a crippled child, a stay-at-home mom, and a garbage man.  The storm is raging, waves are working to destroy this lifeboat, and panic has set within the hearts of the individuals on board.  They realize, that in order for all the others to be saved, one person must be thrown over board.  Which one will they choose?*
Now, imagine that I divided all the readers of this article up into groups, had you spread out in a room and debate this question, the question of which one you would choose.  Can you imagine the discussions that would take place?
Who would you choose?  And how would you choose?  What criteria would determine your decision?  Is one of these individuals more valuable than another?  Does one have more to contribute to the world? 
When presented with this scenario for the first time years ago, I don’t remember who I threw out of the boat, but what I do remember is that I did not think twice about making a decision about who had value and who didn’t.  I decided who would be thrown out of the boat and determined this based on my opinion of how valuable each individual was to the group.  I looked at their profession, their gender, their education, their ability or inability to perform to the level that I thought a person in the lifeboat should be able to perform.  In short, I decided all kinds of reasons that people should or shouldn’t be thrown out of the boat.   
Isn’t it likely that when I rattled off the individuals present in the scenario you were already deciding about who you might choose to throw overboard?  Maybe in your mind, you were thinking about which one of these individuals makes the most money, has the greatest disability, and who would help or hurt this situation the most?  But doesn’t the crippled child have just as much value as the female doctor and the garbage man?  Doesn’t the stay at home mom have just as much talent as the male lawyer?
Donald Miller says it this way, “The thing is, if people are in a lifeboat, the reason they feel passionately about being a good person is because if they aren’t, they are going to be thrown overboard.  Miller suggests that the reason there is a lifeboat scenario at play in our world at all anyway, is because so many of us have forgotten who and where we are to actually receive our value and worth from.  What if, in the same way the sun feeds plants, God’s glory gives his children life?  What if our value exists because God take pleasure in us?  
Someone once wrote, “If the gospel is good news (and it is) then let it be continually announced the hostage ordeal is over. Ordeal? What ordeal? Did we miss something?
Men and women of all brands are held hostage in trying to be what others want them to be. We are shackled by expectations placed upon us by many who feel they know best. Many struggle to be the most and best they can be because both restrictions and demands have been handed over. The result is grown people in thirty, fifty and eighty year old bodies who are stifled by someone's estimation of how they should act, where they should live, and what they should do.
The thread, which fatigues every human heart, is the pressure of trying to be what others expect.  Jesus offers great news that each can become what God can imagine.  And God’s dream is bigger than a lifeboat and announces that through the blood of Jesus, “the hostage ordeal is over.”

*This “theory” was originally presented in Donald Miller’s book, Searching For God Know What.