Are you a fan of Survivor, the television reality show?  According to TV Guide, this show which predates the smartphone, has run for 20 years (with 40 Seasonal Series episodes), and has outlived 4 presidencies.  Now the question is: will the series “survive” the COVID-19 calamity which prevents the return of Jeff Probst and a cast of people clawing their way toward $1,000,000.00 as the “Sole Survivor’?

I had never watched the show until a few years ago.  On May 31, 2000, this reality show was not even on my radar.  Maybe my kids watched it.  I don’t know.  Yet, recently, I became hooked by the very premise of the script.  Take 18-20 people of all races, backgrounds, education, and social standing… and dump them on a remote location, like an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.  Give them a pot for boiling water, a machete for cutting wood and coconuts, and see if they have the skills to survive, first as a tribe, then as a sole survivor.

Traveling all the way back to the beginning of the show, I started with Season 1, Episode 1, and have now journeyed through 14 seasons.  I’m not even half way to Season 40 yet, and I am still fascinated with this social experiment that has such vast results.  The cast of players is almost invariably made up of people who all want or need the money, that’s why they play.  And it is a game, or so everyone wants you to believe.  Especially since the motto of the game is “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.”

In every season I’ve watched, there are those who enter the game with an absolute commitment to leave all social mores behind.  This means they go in knowing they will lie, deceive, trade alliances, or do whatever is necessary in the moment to become the sole survivor.  By contrast, there are those coming in to play the game committed to be true to themselves and the norms of social conduct.  They try on purpose not to lie, deceive, jump ship, stab people in the back, or blind side anyone.  Most of the time, these people lose, and the shadier people win.  But the winner always says. “it’s a game.”

As a social study, whether game or grand experiment, the show stirs up in me a wide range of emotions and provoking thought processes. Most recently, in Season 14, one particular cast player caught my heart, making an indelible impression with one thought he shared around the middle of the game.  Yau-Man Chan when asked about his approach to the game said it was the same as in real life.  He said, “Love many. Trust few. Do wrong to none.”  This man, 54 years old at the time, and the oldest player in the game, kept true to this philosophy for his whole time on the show.  At one point he gave away a $60,000 truck to another player, in a “handshake” deal that ultimately cost him the game.  On day 38, Yau-Man became the 9th member of the jury, and the 15th person voted out of the game.  The only reason… he trusted few… but in this case, the wrong one.

What can be gained by watching this show?

What have we learned over the 40 seasons and 20 years of watching people play a game where the reward is $1,000,000.00?

My first observation would be – greed causes even good people to do things they might not otherwise do, because after all “it’s just a game.”

My second observation – Yau-Man’s philosophy is a summation of the life of Jesus.

“Love many. Trust few. Do wrong to none.”   Jesus loved many, the whole world in fact.  He trusted few, and especially not those who were driven by worldly desires and lining their own pockets out of greed.  And Jesus did wrong to none.  You might say He did right by all.  And what happened to Him?

The cross says it all.  They voted Jesus out of the tribe.  They sent Him to His death.

But Jesus did not become part of the jury!

When He returns, Jesus returns as Judge.  Sole Creator and Sovereign LORD of ALL.

If you want to model your life after values that are eternal, Yau-Man did a pretty good job.

“Love many. Trust few. Do wrong to none.”

Enduring to Exist Eternally

Daily Post: Survive


I have never previously been a big fan of the current trend of “reality” TV.  Big Brother, the Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor were not part of my television regimine.  Over the past twelve months I’ve watched far more of these shows than in past years, but have to say that I’m still not comfortable with the format.  For the most part, each of these shows becomes at some stage in the program, nothing more than a popularity contest.  Sure, some contain at least an element of skill sets, pitted against the other “contestants.”  What I find most difficult is dealing with those shows which have “scheming deceit” as a primary element determining the winner.

What are we teaching the young people of our world, when a person can say “100% on your team” directly to another person’s face, all the while knowing it is nothing but 100% fictitious lies?  Is this really what we want our kids thinking is normal relationship communication?  Is our world really this far out of whack?

Maybe it is just my age, yes I’m over 60 now, but I don’t remember a time in my pre-adult years when someone would ever blatantly tell me it’s ok to lie.  Even worse, the scheming, conniving mindset of the players on most of these shows, is driven by money.  It is a game, and the winner of the game, in the end gains a financial reward for being the best at crafting his speech to suit his/her agenda, behaving in unconscionable ways, sometimes with a great deal of malice and forethought.  But it makes for great ratings, and more commercial advertising for the media, so who cares right?

It seems at times to me that I must simply endure the incredible nonsense around me, just to continue my journey toward existing eternally.  I know and believe with all my soul, that this world was not designed to operate on the principles of deceitful scheming and lies.  I know and believe that the designers of these “games” or “programs” have been deceived by the Father of Lies.  It is so clear that the motivation to pursue money, and do whatever it takes to win, comes not from God, but from the Deceiver.  But I must endure these shows here and now, because mine is an eternal existence.

The image above is of a man in a wilderness setting finding life through the water captured by this leaf.  What a great illustration of the free gift of life, offered to us in the Living Water.  One day Jesus sat down at a well and to have a conversation with a woman who was a survivor.  She had several past husbands, and the current live-in wasn’t her husband at all.   This was disclosed to her by Jesus to demonstrate that He knew things about her without her having to verbalize them.  Because they were at this well, naturally the conversation centered on water.  Jesus suggested that he could offer her a water that would quench her thirst for eternity.

Was Jesus just playing games?  Was He being deceitful so He could use this woman in some way?  No.  Truth for many folks truly is stranger than fiction at times, and this certainly sounded strange to her.  Did this woman want this water.  Sure.  She said so, in clear and concise words, since she was tired of coming to that same old well every day for water.  Watch the truth emerge from Jesus’ next statement:

John 4:14
… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

Surviving this life, and not just this one, but into the next one in eternity, requries that we take a long, deep drink from the well of living water.  At some point we have to grow up and learn that it isn’t always about money, power, clothes, cars, portfolios, or influence.  Eternity isn’t about winning some popularity contest.  Your eternal destination is based on your responses to the clear and vibrant life giving water offered by Jesus Christ Himself.

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life; and not one comes to the Father but through me.

If you want to survive this world’s mess, then this verse is something you can take to the bank – 100%