The Survivor: Redemption Island finale was Sunday night and I was one of the ones up until 11pm watching it, of course. I still get the question, "Do you still watch the show?" Um...yes! I was a fan way before I was a contestant and I'll continue to be a fan of the show.
This season was especially interesting to me. I knew from the moment I saw Matt Elrod on the show that he was going to have a tough time staying in the game because the first thing he mentioned was his faith. To people who don't understand what faith in Jesus Christ is all about, it can seem very unsettling and it's easy to be misunderstood - especially in a game like this. In the scriptures (2 Corinthians 2:15-17) it clearly says that to some, we are like the fragrance of death and doom - but to God and to those who are being saved, we are the pleasing aroma of Christ. You can see that play out in the game of Survivor when you throw a believer in the mix.
In all the previous seasons of the show, believers are usually one of the very first people voted off and I believe it's for that very reason. It's hard to be around what Jeff Probst calls "morality" when you're in a game that is usually played without morals to a certain degree. Also, it's very difficult for a believer to play this game and maintain their witness and morality without compromising. So...you can imagine how excited I was to see Matt make it all the way to the finale in this game!
Matt was voted off very early in the game. But this season was different - they had a new twist in it where the person voted off gets to go to "Redemption Island" and duel it out with the next person voted off for a chance to stay in the game. It was amazing to see Matt win every single duel and then find himself back in the game a few weeks ago. Of course, he was voted out right away again but then continued to win the duels again until the very last one where he had to balance a clay vase on a board with his foot. The vase tipped over and shattered into pieces, leaving him on the jury and not in the running for a million dollars. It was not lost on me that Matt, God's vessel used to bring Him glory, was taken out of the game by a broken vessel. Isn't that what we all are? Broken - but put back together as a beautiful, priceless mosaic by the loving hands of our God!
I get the feeling he could have cared less about the million dollar prize. Matt wasn't motivated by that money - he was motivated by bringing glory to God and he did just that. God used him to show the world the amazing impact a true believer who is sold out to Jesus Christ can have on others when given the chance to stay in the game. God protected Matt from playing the game and allowed him to spend about a month on Redemption Island, where he was able to spend hours in the scriptures and in prayer with God. (On a side note...I often wish someone would strand me on a "redemption island" where I could spend hours alone with the Lord, reading His word and praying...but I digress!)
The other contestants were able to spend one on one time with Matt and his Bible as they were voted out of the game and onto Redemption Island and many lives were changed as a result of this. Matt wasn't perfect (um...who is but Jesus?) he was human, but he was real and his faith was inspiring. To me, that is what makes this game so intriguing. It's a social experiment, of sorts. And this season, I believe God used Matt in a very mighty way. There were moments of tremendous heart-wrenching honesty when Matt described how God was carrying him through the long, difficult days out there. He was broken, but God definitely put him back to together, piece by piece and even though his "broken vase" is what lost the game for him, this "broken vessel" won way more than a million dollars.
Congratulations, Matt! I'm proud to be your sister in Christ and I look forward to seeing how God uses you, a beautiful mosaic vessel for Him, to pour out more of His truth and light onto the lives of others in even bigger ways in the future! You may not have won the title of "Sole Survivor" but you definitely won the privilege of being used by God as a "Soul Reviver". God bless you!