In the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays an overworked Fed Ex sales manager. After a plane crash Hank’s character finds himself stranded on a small deserted island. The realism is stunning. When Hank’s plane went into that water I felt like I was in it. When he struggled to breath so did I. When he floated ashore there was no music in the background. The only sound was the relentless drumming of the waves. I was alone with him. It was gripping.
In time Hank’s character found a volleyball, painted a face on it, and named it “Wilson.” For the remainder of the movie he talked to the volleyball as if it were his friend.
I found it interesting that alone on a desert island this person found more comfort talking to a volleyball than to the Lord. In fact, he never once prayed. That was odd to me. The Hollywood writers never once had a man stranded on a deserted island pray. I thought, “How strange. All that commitment to realism and not a single prayer.” Wouldn’t he have prayed? I sure would have. In fact, given the circumstances I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have cried out to God. The staunchest agnostic will pray on a desert island. But Hank’s character never did. Why would they spend so much time on realism and not have their character do the most natural thing in the world?
Contrast the character in Cast Away with his classic cousin, Robinson Crusoe. The similarities between the two are unmistakable. But there is a significant difference. When Daniel DeFoe’s hero came to the end of himself he didn’t counsel with a volleyball. He cried out to God,
“Lord, what a miserable creature am I! If I should be sick, I shall certainly die for want of help; and what will become of me . . . God’s justice has overtaken me, and I have none to help or hear me. I rejected the voice of Providence, which had mercifully put me in a posture or station of life wherein I might have been happy and easy; . . . and now I have difficulties to struggle with, too great for even nature itself to support, and no assistance, no help, no comfort, no advice. . . Lord, be my help, for I am in great distress.”
Why the new spin on the old story? The modern world just can’t seem to admit that there is someone out there that they can turn to in a crisis. They’d rather talk to a volleyball. God wants us to find refuge in Him.