Real Life

Yes, I’ve been watching Star Trek again. No, I never get tired of it. There’s something about space travel that excites my imagination. It really is the last frontier. What’s also interesting is no matter how far the Star Trek crew travels from the home world, they still can’t get away from human nature and the reality of life.

In an episode of Star Trek Voyager titled “Real Life,” the holographic doctor decided to create a holographic family on the holodeck so he could learn to relate to his flesh and blood counterparts. For those of you who still live on Planet Earth, a holodeck is a “simulated reality facility located on starships and star bases in the fictional Star Trek universe” (Wikipedia). You can find out more than you want to know by googling holodeck.

The doctor programmed an ideal wife, son and daughter and settled down to enjoy family life. One of his crewmates pointed out his Father Knows Best, 1950s style family was a far cry from reality, so she made a few changes to the programming. What followed looked a lot closer to what we experience today: stressed-out, overscheduled wife, kids with questionable friends, and some loud music, backtalk and rebellion thrown in for good measure.

The doctor fared rather well until his daughter fell during a sporting event and sustained a serious head injury. When he and another doctor realized she was beyond help and close to death, the doctor decided he’d had enough and ended the program.

Isn’t that what we wish we could do when things get really tough? Life would be so much easier if we could just say, computer, end program, and all our troubles would disappear. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like in the doctor’s first program, everyone was always cheerful, well-behaved, happy, healthy and no one had any problems? The doctor thought so; that’s why he left when things became difficult.

Another crew member convinced him not to run out on his suffering family and to go back to his dying daughter. In that way he might learn what being a family was really about. So he did. The doctor’s wife and estranged son also came to the daughter’s bedside. They were all there with her when she died, holding her hand and helping her not to be afraid.

The holographic doctor couldn’t run away from real life and neither can we. We can’t say, end program, but we can say, Father, help us and the most loving, powerful Being alive will be there to give us his strength and help.

Life is messy and difficult, but as the doctor learned, it’s also worth the struggle. His fictional family learned love is stronger than troubles. What they didn’t know is God is stronger than life or death and that real life is in him. We know, so instead of running away, we run to—Jesus, who is our real life.

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