Well, we finally watched Into the Wild last night (with our friends William and Charis). It is a powerful film about a soul-searcher and journey-taking young man named Chris McCandless; and it moved me; made me grateful for hope in Christ and meaningful relationships with God and others. The story explores some deep parts of being human: wanting to enter into a wild place, knowing we need redemption, and realizing that joy is never found alone.
The “wild” is an important theme in Scripture. Just search for “wilderness” in any online Bible concordance, and you will find hundreds of entries. Most of them relate to Israel’s wandering between Egypt and Canaan, and a few to prophecies of an even greater redemption (Is. 43:19, for one).
The big picture from all of these is that the “wild” is not something to be embraced, but to be tamed. The wilderness provides redemption insofar as it is conquered and come through alive.
Look at the biblical testimony and something is clear: only God himself can redeem men from the despair and danger of the wilderness. Only God makes a way in the wilderness. Only Jesus made it through the wilderness in a vicarious (an “on our behalf”) way.
Chris McCandless’s story is a metaphor for that. The wild did not save him. It broke him. He went it alone, and he did not survive.