Floating through reality: needing salvation

by By Alex

“I’ve spent 15 years in a life raft — 15 years — now I’ve got something to say. Stay in your lifeboats, people, stay in your life boats. It’s murder out there, murder. Sharks patrol these waters.” — Mark Sandman

I’ve spent four years walking around campus, feeling like a leper and dying for someone to reach out to me, and I know you feel the same way. I see it on your faces. We’re all floating on one-person life rafts in a sea of sharks.
I see this each time I drive alone in my car. I look out my window — which is more like an ocean than a simple pane of glass — and I see the world pass by without me.
I think about you as I drive through drunken crowds behind the local bars. I watch from another world as you stumble out of the saloons and wander to your cars. I can remember days not long ago when we would share a beer and a joke. Those days are part of me, but I can’t go back.
As I drive home, I still am thinking about you.
I love you, because I used to be you.
We are all the same somehow. We are all looking for something.
My brother Wesley, for instance, seeks knowledge. When I gave him a Bible for his high school graduation, he cherished it because it was a symbol of me. But he can’t believe what it says because belief relies on faith, and faith is the opposite of knowing. To serve God, Wes would have to abandon knowledge.
No matter what it is we look for, it can’t save us from the inevitable.
One day we will run out of food and water, or our life boats will spring leaks, and we will have to face the sharks.
One day we will die.

“I’m going to be sucked into oblivion, and what’s going to be coming out the other side I don’t know.” — Homer Simpson

I can’t claim to know without a doubt what will happen after I stop breathing, but faith has nothing to do with knowledge.
I have absolute faith my existence will not end when my life on this planet does. Robert Johnson, the great delta bluesman of the 1920s and 1930s, sang about his fears, namely, that he had to keep moving because “there’s a hellhound on my trail,” and how his doorknob kept turning because there were “spooks around my bed.”
Johnson was convinced he’d sold his soul to the devil in exchange for excellence on the guitar. As a result, he lived his life in fear of death. When he was poisoned in 1938, eyewitnesses claimed he crawled into a vacant lot and “howled like a sick dog” because of the terror he felt when he knew his life was nearly over.
Unfortunately for Johnson, his life was spent running from an invisible force he felt owned him. He never knew there was an all-powerful god who held power of attorney over any contract made with the devil.
Like Johnson, most of us live our lives running from the hellhounds snapping at our heels, never aware of the shelter we have been offered.
Somewhere, just beyond our limited humanistic sight, is a loving savior who only asks we trust him. But we just keep running, hoping we will somehow be able to save ourselves.
How many times have we said, “Oh, if I just get an A on this test,” or “If I just get organized,” or any other variant of the “If I just …” equation? We always fail to say, “If I would just trust God,” because one lifetime is longer than we can imagine, and the barks of the hellhounds are loud enough to confuse our judgment.
If we could take just a moment from searching for our Holy Grail to trust God, the sharks and hellhounds suddenly would seem like guppies and puppies.
Thanks for listening.

Alex Walters’ column originally ran in the May 2nd edition of The Battalion, Texas A & M’s student newspaper.