Monday, December 1, 2014

The Walking Dead: We Ain't Ashes

One of the great things about a continuing tale like the popular TV show The Walking Dead is how characters are developed. You see a person coping with something as overwhelming and unlikely as the zombie apocalypse, and you wonder how they got to be who they are. And then there's an episode like Consumed (aired November 16, 2014), where through flashbacks and dialogue, you get to see inside their soul a little. Such was the case with Carol.

(Note: For the Dead fans, yes, I know a midseason finale loaded with meaning aired last night, and it screams to be written about. But this post has been on my mind for about two weeks, so here we go.)

For the uninitiated, Carol is a woman who has been through an abusive relationship that affected both her and her daughter. Then early in the apocalypse, her daughter was lost and subsequently turned out to be dead. As the group sought shelter in a (nearly) abandoned prison, she tried to reinvent herself into one who would cope with the new world, teaching the children how to protect themselves. But alas, even that fell apart.

And so we see her and Daryl, whom she has just been reunited with, discussing who they are and how they got there:

Everything is magnified in the apocalypse, but I believe it's an amplification of the struggles we deal with every day in this broken world. As you look back on your life, can you identify with Carol at all? She speaks of the time with her husband as another Carol that got burned away. Then she thought she had found refuge and a purpose in the prison...nope. Now, she is in despair. Is there any hope? What happens when everything you had trusted in is burned away...consumed?

Her world is bleak. It doesn't seem like it even matters who she is anymore. But her friend Daryl reminds her, that whatever has been burned up, it's not her. What really makes Carol, Carol is still there. Through all the hardship and the feeling of being consumed, they're still there. As Daryl says, "We ain't ashes." We've survived.

This reminds me of something the apostle Paul wrote to the first century church at Corinth. He points out that life is exactly like that. Trials are a fire, meant to refine us and burn away what's worthless, leaving the best - glorious creation that God intended us to be. Here's what he said:
For no one can lay any foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (1 Corinthians 3:11-14, ESV)
 Wood, hay, straw - they all will burn up. What won't be consumed is gold, silver and the like. So the question for me is, what will I lay on the top of the foundation which is King Jesus?

Love? Peace? Patience? Forgiveness? Caring for the poor and oppressed? Considering others better than myself?


Bitterness? Hatred? Selfishness? Lust? Greed? Rage?

The trials will flame up and burn what is flammable. The latter things will go up in a blaze of glory. But the former, the character that God would have me build, it'll last.

In this fallen world, I pray that God would help me develop character so that I will not be consumed. I don't want to leave a pile of ashes. Do you?

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