Late one night last week I read an article by Thomas Lake in Sports Illustrated:“The Boy They Couldn’t Kill.” It tells of a grandmother, Saundra, caring for her daughter’s son, Chancellor. Chancellor has cerebral palsy because his father, a former NFL football player, shot his mother when she was pregnant with him. The baby lived; the mother died.
You can see why I stayed up to read it.
Both Chancellor and his grandmother have heroic forgiveness and courage because Saudra has lived out for Chancellor the faith she learned as a young child. Writer Thomas Lake describes how she was taught to trust (be prepared; it’s beautiful writing): “What she learned… was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for life. The sense that you don’t wake up unless God opens your eyes, don’t see the rising sun unless God pulls it from the horizon, don’t put food in your mouth unless God helps you hold the fork. And you do all these things and you rejoice.”
I fully suggest reading the entire article (publication info follows this entry), but I want to focus on that quote, because it brought to mind a verse I’ve been thinking about for weeks, ever since I finished Deuteronomy. Moses is speaking his last words—and a lot of them—to the Israelites. He sings a song that reviews their history as God’s people: how God has always been faithful and they have often strayed. He says this: “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.” (Deut. 32:18)
What a word! It’s the opposite of Saundra Brown’s attitude. That convicts me! How often do I wake up unmindful? How often do I walk through a day unmindful?
“In Him we live and move and have our being.” Paul said this to the Athenians, introducing them to the God who was far more personal and near than the ones their own poets wrote about.
I lose sight of this, that without Him I have no existence. My very be-ing—and my self-awareness of it—is a gift from a Creator who is big enough to give me, His creation, a sense of autonomy and the choice to either live in acknowledgement of Him or pretend I am responsible for it myself. That’s HUGE—to allow the creations over which He has ultimate and complete control to turn their backs on Him. That’s unfathomable to humans because we’re not big enough to do that.
So I have this choice to be unmindful (though that choice alone should give me greater awe for Him), yet there are consequences to unmindful-ness. Yes, the air is still available, and the lungs take it in, and the heart beats its exactly right number of beats per minute, and the oxygen-bearing blood flows through veins and capillaries to pinky toes and brain cells alike and then, at just the right time, back through arteries to the heart. But even though all these miracles happen—and they happen even in unmindful-ness—this is not true life. This is not what Christ called “life eternal,” meaning the life which does not end with the dying of brain cells or the stagnation of blood, meaning the life that goes on and becomes even more glorious when the body dies.
In unmindful-ness we are, in effect, walking corpses. Years ago, on a mission trip, I asked a pastor friend to describe his fervor for the street evangelism I found so difficult. “I see dead people,” he answered—long before Sixth Sense hit the big screen. When life is not linked to the One who gave it, when it is not lived in gratitude to Him, with ever-increasing knowledge and acknowledgment of Him, we’re not alive. Zombies, that’s what we are.
The Amplified version of John 17:3 says it well: “And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent.
“The Boy They Couldn’t Kill” Thomas Lake, Sports Illustrated, September 17, 2012 issue