This is a repost of the first post of a series I began nearly two years ago. Dusting off some cob-webs…

127 hours.

That’s how long it took Aron Ralston to fall into a cave, and hike back out.

127 hours.

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you’re missing out.

Firstly, the story is simply amazing; made even more so because it’s true.

Secondly, the visuals are mind-jarring in their ability to keep you engaged with what could have been a very long, very slow-moving film.

Thirdly, you get inside the head of someone who is desperate, and staring death in the face. This one facet alone was worth the time investment in watching this story unfold.

Without spoiling the movie (I think most of us are familiar with the story as reported by major media outlets in 2003), it struck me in thinking back about the movie how this story is a metaphor for the state of the church in the West, particularly in the U.S.

The film begins with Aron leaving to go do some cave climbing by himself. He has a great time getting out to the area where he is going to climb, several hours from his home. The next day as he first bikes, then hikes, into the wilderness, he has a lot of fun. It’s almost comical the level of enjoyment and the shear rush he gets from the adventure and the anticipation of the climb. Being a hiker and novice climber I can appreciate his exuberance. It’s as natural a high as anyone can have.

Later in the day, as Aron negotiates a descent into a cave he’s familiar with, everything goes terribly wrong. In the end, 127 hours later, he did the unthinkable, cutting off a full third of his own right arm in order to escape that cave and escape death. That’s right. He cut off his own arm.

How is this story a metaphor for the Church of God in the U.S.? Here’s how:

For some time (nearly 500 years) the Christian Church held a place of massive influence in most spheres of both private and public discourse and development. This time-span is commonly known as Christendom.

We were just sort of loping along through the years, enjoying the status that we had (gained through both holy and unholy methods), the prominence we enjoyed in society at large, the wealth we amassed as people willingly gave of their time, talent and treasure to see the Church continue to flourish. The Church was the seat and center of community experience, and it frankly never occurred to anyone that this might ever change.

But change it did…

…to be continued…