In April of 1992, Chris McCandless walked into the Alaskan wilderness searching for something. It was the summit of his quest that began two years earlier when he graduated from college and subsequently disappeared from everything and everyone he had known.
What Chris was looking for was answers to life’s deepest meaning. It was a journey that cost Chris, the truth seeker, his life. What he found on this side of paradise was - there are no answers. At least as far as the natural world is concerned.
Author Jon Krakauer did an excellent job in piecing together a biographical sketch of the young ideologue as he tramped his way west and ultimately to the Alaskan frontier in a 1996 book entitled, “Into the Wild.”
A couple of years earlier, Krakauer had written an investigative article for Outside Magazine on the same story which was one of the most widely read and commented upon articles ever published by the magazine. It was also one of the reasons he decided to dig a little deeper and publish the book.
Krakauer also admitted in the book that another prominent reason for writing the book was because of the kindred spirit he sensed he and McCandless shared. Now, this event which occurred nearly two decades ago continues to surface as it was most recently made into the 2007 film with the same name.
Perhaps an even greater tragedy, however, is that the story seems to have ended just as it began, with both the author and the dead young man and who knows how many countless others, coming up with no concrete answers, only more questions.
So what is the point of once again bringing this all to the surface? Why do so many seem to seek and come up short? Does God deliberately and cruelly stack the deck against us, or is his method the only conceivable solution to breaking down the one barrier in mankind that keeps us from a knowledge of the truth we appear to so hungrily pursue.
The barrier to which I refer is the pride of mankind, the burning desire within our hearts that we can do it all on our own. The proof lies in our emphatic rejection of the very premise that we cannot achieve all we set out to (humanism). I see it in my own sons and daughter. “I want to do it myself,” they raged from the very moment they could form words.
The portrait of Chris McCandless painted by Krakauer seemed no different. His yearning was to test himself and few would argue after reading the book that he wasn’t capable. He was a very bright and competent young man who wanted in the worst way to live without boundaries and find truth in nature and extreme solitude.
The problem for Chris and others like him is that the answer will always elude them as long as their pursuit of truth leads to seeking answers exclusively in this natural world. While truth is manifested in various ways within nature, it is just a portion of the greater truth found only in a spiritual connection to the Creator God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) states, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Thus, I think the undoing of prideful seekers is their unwillingness to even consider our Creator God and his seemingly exclusive offer of his Son Jesus Christ as the only link between Him and this world.
In the end, it is human arrogance which causes people to miss the truth that was right under their nose all along. It was that burning desire to do it himself, his way on no way, that ultimately did Chris in.
While it may be too late for Chris, although I cannot judge what transpired between him and God in his final moments, it is not too late for others who can still learn from Chris’s mistake.
Life is inherently filled with injustice. It is this flawed and imperfect world which causes many of us to make a pilgrimage to find answers. It is God, calling us “out of the wild” natural state of man, and our humility which ultimately helps us find the answer which stands alone.
Salvation does not come through human effort, but only through acknowledgement of the Savior Jesus Christ and his efforts on the Cross.