LOST: The Redemption of Charlie

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=DEdamiN8d-s]

We resonate with the characters of LOST because they are almost all struggling with a past full of regrets, mistakes, and heartache. Some are remembering people that they have killed. Some are remembering vast amounts of drugs and alcohol consumed. Some remember malicious and evil acts perpetrated on behalf of their military service. Grifters, liars, and adulterers were all on this flight together. Rock stars, victims and jilted lovers found their way onto Oceanic flight 815. Maybe you’re thinking that you would fit right in with this group. The truth is that this mix of humanity can be found at any gathering … any flight … any busload of passengers … any stadium … any … church.

After the crash Locke tells the ill fated Shannon that the Island offers everyone the chance to start life over. Isn’t that what everybody needs? I believe that his the slogan of the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa … a place to start life over. I like that. I need that. Who hasn’t dreamed of a place where all of the mistakes of our past really are lost in the fog of distance and time in such a way that we never need revisit them. Even in the forgiveness offered in Christ, we still remind ourselves of our own weakness. Sometimes we define ourselves by the past that haunts us. Like Sawyer, we carry around a note (even if it’s mental) that describes the pain and hurt we suffered. We find it hard to let it go. Redemption is a far away dream for our hurting hearts. 

And every character on LOST is a study in redemption, but Charlie really touches my heart. He’s not the hero type. He’s always been influenced by everyone else. In young life it was his religion. Emerging from adolescence and into early adulthood he was a influenced by his brother to follow their dream into becoming rock stars in a one-hit-wonder band called Drive Shaft. Heroin became his mentor during this time. Although his brother escaped the addiction, Charlie struggled … even using on the plane … just before it broke apart. Locke and Jack help Charlie overcome his addiction, and things seem to be going great until he comes across the crashed plane of Nigerian drug runners. In the wreckage there is enough heroin to keep Charlie high for years. Ironically it is hidden inside statues of the virgin Mary, brilliantly summarizing the struggle within. Yes, Charlie is the follower … in the back seat of life being led around by others. Even when he tries to protect Claire from her kidnapper, Ethan hangs Charlie from a tree and leaves him for dead. In season two we find Charlie with a stash of the heroin-packed Mary statues. Not using yet, but it’s there…calling to him. The entrance of the psychic Desmond to the story begins to drive Charlie to his destiny. There is a deadly mission that must be accomplished if the Losties are to be able to radio for help. Charlie volunteers, and in doing so, willingly gives his life for his friends in the season three final episode. One of the highlight’s of Charlie’s time on the show is his list of his five “greatest hits”…the five things that meant the most in his life. They’re highlighted in the video above.

Of course there is much more to Charlie’s character that spans three seasons. I’m interested that Charlie’s faith comes back into the story several times. We see him in confession, making a life changing decision – only to reverse it at the urging of his brother. Charlie talks about religion from time to time, something Claire even notices. He also gains respect for Mr. Eko, as he believes that Eko is a priest. He helps Eko build a church on the island. In his final death scene he mades the sign of the cross as he drowns in the underwater station. Charlie typifies the struggle between good and evil, righteousness and sin. Addicted to heroin, drawn to please others, yet yearning to do something noble with his life.

I think the Charlies among us identify deeply with the words of the Apostle Paul (who was once LOST on an island, now that I think about it!): When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

We spend our lives trying to rise above that battle … fighting off addictions, habits, apathy, inappropriate guilt, abuses, and a multitude of our own failings. It’s not just US … there really is something at work within us that is fighting against our deepest desires and dreams for God. Who will rescue us from this island of despair? 

 Romans 7:25 tells us “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! “

We may  not have to sacrifice ourselves in an underwater station like Charlie did, but we do have to die to ourselves. We must yield ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit. That is our only hope. It is God who allows us to start life over. I hope you have people in your life that will cheer you on in that journey. The cast of LOST are in a process of redemption. Some fare better than others. In his dying moment Charlie offered information that may change the course of the show. But we will not know that until season 4!

LINKS

Steve ponders eternal life.

A Lectionary F.A.Q.

Thanks for reading,

John

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