Someday history will tell it. They will say they were on a mission to save lives.
On this day, a team of international divers faced perilous conditions, with limited life-giving oxygen and adequate space to swim to rescue a youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand. Regardless of the outcome, they recognized someone needed a rescue. Selfless Samaritans fought to preserve life at the risk of losing their own.
Their brave mission is proof of their humanity and the value they’ve placed on life. In dark, troubled waters with the odds stacked against them, they could still see the blessing in living, the beauty of breathing, the grace in trying again and again. So should we.
PURSUE THE PATH OF LIFE
There’s an expression in Latin:
Quod vitae sectobor iter.
The English translation goes something like this:
To pursue the path of life.
And when posed as a question:
Which path in life will I choose?
Right or wrong, fairly or unfairly, life keeps moving— with or without us. This exact moment is our present, and it will be the past by this time tomorrow. Give it a few days, weeks, months or years and life will inevitably throw plenty of things at us which we can’t possibly control. Some of it will be exciting and life-giving, some of it is devastating and faith-testing. All we can do is choose.
We can courageously take the reigns of our response to life events—and if necessary, our recovery— and relentlessly pursue an abundant life as Jesus intended it (John 10:10). This is no small feat, though. Especially, when we’re blind to the fact that we’re in need of help, a rescue.
IS IT TIME FOR A RESCUE?
Years ago, a friend lovingly opened my eyes. I’d been foolishly walking around thinking I was managing a significant loss just fine. Smiling through the heartbreak yet seething on the inside. He was perceptive enough to see my pain brewing underneath, a guaranteed path to self-destruction. Through our mutual love of poetry, he gave me Khalil Gibran’s “On Pain.” I’ll never forget this line:
“Your pain is self-chosen.”
Whoa! A hard truth to swallow when it’s so much easier (and comforting) to blame others—even God. The poet eloquently explained that there comes the point when we have the power to write our story, to dictate the direction of our response— and if necessary, our recovery. With great kindness, my friend cared enough to tap me on the shoulder and say, it was time for a rescue.
Looking back, what’s remarkable about this moment is he was confronting his own challenges. As a young man, he was already waging war against multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease for which there is no cure. A diagnosis with a death sentence be damned! He was choosing life and gently nudging me to do the same. Sometimes we must save ourselves.
I could’ve taken my place among all the bitter, angry women and fulfilled a trope— or I could rise and live. It would take years of hard work and missteps but I would take my time and life’s medicine, knowing what happened may not have been caused by God but was —in the very least— allowed by Him for a purpose I did not yet understand.
WALKING DEAD OR PURSUING LIFE?
Every day we make a choice to either adjust our lens on life or wallow in self-pity, regret, anger, jealousy or paranoia. Wallow or walk it out. It’s our choice.
Here’s how to know when we’re not in pursuit of the path of life.
1.We’re committed to a general belief no one else’s life journey compares to our own. Our ego has written a narrative that helps us to feel “special” in our circumstance; it limits our humility and our compassion for others.
2.We prefer our past over our future. We spend more time on what was instead of working toward what could be. The Apostle Paul urged us to strain toward the mark (Philippians 3:14), and yet the past remains our beginning and our end.
3.We repeat, rehearse, and replay the original wound or the original offender(s) that altered our lives. We continue to give a life event or specific people power by discussing them and analyzing it instead of writing a new script.
An often-quoted verse in Psalm 30 reminds us that “weeping may endure for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” For me, this popular verse always seemed to suggest we quickly wipe our tears and move on, move past whatever caused the tears in the first place. However, skip a few lines down, and the psalmist amplifies his simple declaration. It becomes a bold explanation of the blessing in living. The song climaxes with his pursuit of life and unshakeable faith— even in dark, troubled waters:
So, Lord, I turned and prayed to you.
I asked you, Lord, to show me mercy.
I said, “What good is it if I die and go down to the grave?
The dead just lie in the dirt. They cannot praise you.
They cannot tell anyone how faithful you are.
Lord, hear my prayer, and be kind to me. Lord, help me!”
You have changed my sorrow into dancing. You have taken away my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
You wanted me to praise you and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever!
In other words, get about the business of living! We’re of no use in the grave after this life or the grave some of us willingly dig in this one. There’s work to be done. Big or small, monumental or minute, celebratory or unsung—everyone must do their part. Saman Gunan did.
Days before members of that youth soccer team were rescued, Gunan, a Thailand Navy SEAL, died while making sure they would have enough oxygen to survive the planned rescue mission. In a cave nearly three miles underground and underwater, he made a choice to do his part. In the pursuit of life, he saved lives. Few of us will ever be recognized as heroes, but we never know when we’ll be called to be one —for ourselves or for another.
Quod vitae sectobor iter. Which path in life will we choose?