Later, in the book, Joshua is captured and forced to accompany Meruzilak on a journey to the top of the highest mountain, where Meruzilak will find Daniel and kill him. Joshua knows he has to escape if he has any chance of saving his brother…
The night grew longer and the air colder. Joshua tried to ignore the cold, as it was the least of his worries, but he shivered constantly. He began to worry that when the time came for him to make a run for it he would be too frozen to move. He rubbed his arms and rocked his legs back and forth to keep the circulation flowing.
It was a weird feeling for him, waiting to escape. By making a run for it, Joshua would be risking his life, and anytime a boy risks his life there are a lot of things that can go wrong. He could get lost and freeze to death out here, or be attacked by a pack of mountain lions. What if he got all the way to the top and Daniel wasn’t there? There were too many unforeseen obstacles and, as said, it’s the fear of the unknown that frightens us the most. If only he had a crystal ball. At least then he could see what was coming ahead of time and do things differently.
Someone asked, “If you had a crystal ball and could see into the future, would you use it?” It’s a question I’m sure we’ve all been asked at some point or another. I thought about it—not for long, however. I knew my answer.
“No,” I said. “It would be tempting. But I wouldn’t do it.”
“Why not?” the person asked. “You’d be able to make the right decisions and avoid mistakes.”
“The mystery is part of the enjoyment of life,” I responded.
It’s the mystery that keeps us on our toes. It keeps us striving and working and moving forward. Consider: If you knew the ending to a movie before it started, would you stay to the end? If someone told you the final score of the Super Bowl before kickoff, would you be as inclined to watch all four quarters?
I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan since I was a young boy. Last year, the Cardinals team won the World Series, but not without its share of drama…a lot of drama. Game 6 of that World Series is widely considered one of the most exciting games in baseball history. The game went back and forth. Twice, the Cardinals were down to its final strike. But each time, the team rallied to score and eventually won the game in extra innings, 10-9.
I watched the game at home, pacing the floor relentlessly. I got so nervous that I repeatedly turned off the television (I couldn’t stand watching it anymore), then turned it on again (I couldn’t stand not watching it even more). I devoured an entire bag of potato chips, did multiple sets of push-ups, sent dozens of text messages to friends and even dusted the furniture during innings.
Now, imagine if I had Tevoed the game and watched it later, having already learned the outcome. I would have still enjoyed it, but in a more detached fashion, sitting calmly, knowing St. Louis was going to pull out the victory. I might have saved myself the floor pacing and hand wringing, but I would have robbed myself of the experience—jumping up and down in excitement, replaying the highlights until 2:00 in the morning, talking about it the next day with coworkers and friends.
Life is the same way, but on a much larger scale. Life is unpredictable. At times, it can be quite mean. It’s frightening; loud and messy; uncertain. And we don’t like that. A sporting event is one thing: we are merely onlookers. When it comes to life, we would rather know the final score in advance, so as to avoid the nervous innings in between. If we can maintain control, the more secure we feel. So we hold onto the things that are certain: grocery lists, soccer schedules, fast-food drive-ins. They may not be much, or even enjoyable; but we can control them. They are familiar.
One of my favorites quotes was written by G.K. Chesterton, an English poet and author. Chesterton said:
“The principle is this: that in everything worth having, even in every pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the pleasure may revive and endure. The joy of battle comes after the first fear of death; the joy of reading Virgil comes after the bore of learning him; the glow of the sea-bather comes after the icy shock of the sea bath; and the success of the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon.”
How do we live, given our knowledge of life’s uncertainty and danger? Do we live neutered lives, minimizing risk wherever we can, never rising above, but never falling below—never too exciting, but always safe? Or do we walk forward in spite of the risk, choosing to experience a full range of life’s emotions: the joy, but also the heartache and disappointment?
A third question: How would we live if we believed that, no matter what—no decision we made or mistake we encountered—things would turn out okay in the end? If we knew there was someone we could trust, who had our best interests at heart and the power to make it right, would that make a difference?
To be continued…