What I learned from ‘The Martian’ Part 1

I’ll preface these next four posts all with a massive spoiler alert. I suppose enough time has transpired from the Blu-raydigital release of this film that many who are going to see it already have. But, consider that as fair warning should you proceed further.

The premise for the film is simple in one regard. A tragic space accident causes a team of astronauts to quickly evacuate the red planet, leaving behind a comrade who is presumed dead. As fate and the screenplay would have it, Mark Watney was not dead; only injured. Thus a “stranded on a desert island” story line begins with Watney fighting for survival alone on the planet Mars.

Several sub-plots and life lesson, even theological themes, leaped from the screen as I watched the story unfold. This post will be the first of four based on the story of The Martian.

There’s a prevailing life philosophy that seems to be gaining traction as of late. Keeping it simple – minimalism as it’s sometimes referred to. The Martian provides some insight around this whole theme of being freed from the trappings of materialism.  Making a shift to you owning your stuff rather than your stuff owning you.

This has some personal parallels for our family because in recent months we sold our home and moved into a temporary rent. When you’re endeavoring to put a large percentage of your stuff in storage it forces you to triage your belongings into categories of what you need to live, versus what you can get by just fine without.

In the film, Watney had no choice but to embrace his plight (if not reluctantly) and make the most of the situation. I suppose it’s a easier to keep it simple when an entire planet’s belongings fit inside a small space dwelling! In any event, the main character becomes resourceful beyond his wildest dreams as he’s forced to fully utilize and appreciate what he does have. Right down to garden compost generated from stored human waste from the latrines (I’ll offer no description here).

The story very much transported me to the apostle Paul’s words of counsel to the church in Philippi encouraging them to learn to be content in all circumstances. Freed from our dependence upon our stuff, instead transferring our dependence upon the One who meets all of our needs.

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

When we have our stuff taken away – through whatever circumstance – if we follow Jesus, it should serve as a great opportunity to trust him all the more, recognizing that it’s Christ who is more than able to meet our needs. My possessions are really nice to have; they’re not inherently bad. And in many instances they make my life a little easier.  And they could all be gone in a moment.

It should be great comfort to know that our Provider will never leave us.

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