Zihuatanejo

"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."

Romans 8:24-25


Can you recall the last time you had hope? In my mind I had this vision of a beach in Mexico that had no name. I have never been there in person ‘yet’, but I have been there a million times in my mind. I can almost explain in perfect detail all that is there, the white sand, the blue water, the rock outcroppings, the bay, the lush green tropical vegetation, the grass hut that serves as my hotel room, the food, the fruit, the sand carved beach chairs, the kite I fly, the wind, the tall grass. Yes, if I had time I could write out every scene of Zihuetanjeo from my mind. Until I saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption” (edited for television) it had only been a nameless destination, a place I thought that was limited to my imagination but oh how excited I was to discover my dream is really a reality. I just have not been there in person, 'yet'.

If you have ever seen the movie, then you know of the little beach town in Mexico that goes by the name Zihuatanejo,  it was the beach that Andy Dufrense dreamed about while incarcerated, who in the movie was a young bank executive falsely accused of killing his wife and her lover and then sentenced to life in the prison known as, 'Shawshank'. Zihuatanejo was his hope, it was his dream that kept him going during the hard days at Shawshank which was pretty much every day as prison life there was extremely difficult. Like in the movie I had created this place, this beach in Mexico that on difficult days could imagine myself there, it was my escape, my hope but like I said, the beach town never had a name, until today.

In the movie Andy had this hope of one day getting to Zihuatanejo and it was this hope that kept him going, it kept him alive you might as well say. Andy held onto his hope, hope of escaping from prison one day and then making his way to this little beach community in Mexico and buying a hotel there and an old boat that he could restore and take his hotel guests out on deep sea fishing. I love that his hope was detailed too!

In prison Andy befriends a man named Red and the two develop a special bond of friendship over time and Andy invites Red into his future hope as his assistant manager of his hotel but Red baulks at the idea and thinks its ridiculous for Andy to hold onto such a wild fantasy, fairy-tale like ending to his life. Andy and Red spend many of their days in prison talking about many different topics but each time hope is mentioned Red gets angry. One day Red, angered by Andy's constant conversations of the need for hope chastises Andy saying, "Let me tell you something Andy Dufresne. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside", (speaking of prison).

In truth, the opposite is true though loved one, hope is the only thing that keeps us going at times like nothing else will. I can only speak for me but I know how different my life is when I lose hope. Nothing makes sense, nothing is worthwhile and its hard to even work up enough energy to get out of bed. But, on the other hand, when I have hope I consider the possibilities and the next thing I find I am motivated and have this sense of purpose, infused with energy to walk by faith and not by sight. Yes, loved one, hope makes all the difference in this world and in the world to come.

In the movie, even after Andy has served 20 years for a crime he didn't commit he still has hope of one day ending up in Zihuatanejo. Finally, Andy escapes from prison and not too long afterward Red is paroled but struggling with life outside the structure provided by prison life and so he begins to hatch a plan to get him returned to prison, the only life he has ever really known. The only thing that kept Red from going back to the old way of life in prison was the hope that he learned about from Andy. Andy had given Red a letter and in that letter Andy says to Red, "Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

I think you can guess how the movie ends. Red, with hope in his heart heads for Mexico, to Zihuatanjo to find Andy and to take him up on his offer of assistant hotel manager. I love the final words to the movie as Red takes the bus towards Mexico. He says, "I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope." And in the final scene of the movie Red and Andy come face to face once again, this time not trapped behind prison bars and guards, but as free men, standing on the beach of Zihuatanejo, proof that redemption is possible to those who do not lose hope.

A powerful message from the movie, loved one, the power of hope. What was true in the movie is true in real life too. Never lose hope, never give up on your dreams. For the Christian who places their hope and trust in Jesus the bible says we will not be disappointed. With all my heart I pray today that your heart overflows with the hope that Hebrews 11:1 speaks of and gives as the basis for faith, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I always like to add the word 'yet' at the end of that passage as that's what it means to have hope. 'Things not seen, yet' but one day if we don't give up hope. Yes, loved one, like you I look forward to heaven one day but my hope along the way is a short stay at Zihuatanejo! That's my hope any way!


"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Romans 5:5

I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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