Orange is an anime that always manages to inspire me. Even when I can’t quite process what’s going on, it stirs something in my heart that makes me yearn for the words to describe it. This week’s episode had me experiencing the same pleasure, shock, and awe, except this time I was able to articulate it better than ever before.
If you don’t know what Orange is, your sure missing out, but to paraphrase, here’s a little synopsis:
Naho Takamiya is a girl of much uncertainty and many regrets. To stop her life from continuing in such a manner, she does what any of us would do if we had the chance –she writes a letter to her past self. Through the complicated workings of a reverse time capsule, the letter goes back and arrives to her ten years before. Among other things, it includes a detailed list of her life experiences and as Naho reads, she watches situation after situation unfold before her very eyes. The letter includes advice about many of her foretold responses and one very special warning about a boy named Kakeru Naruse.
As the climax builds and the plot thickens towards the middle of episode six (spoilers ahead), Naho finds herself encouraged to read further into the letters left for her. She skips ahead to February 15th, the day her future self once experienced her friend Kankeru’s tragic death, and notes of the pain that’s sure to come. More than that though, she pays attention to the ways in which she can prevent the untimely death, and acknowledges that it essentially comes down to a change in the young boy’s heart.
Lost and confused was Kankeru when Naho first met him, but she was evermore conflicted to follow the commands of her future self. The letters provided a structured set of rules by which to live by, but one misstep and Kankeru could fall right back into the unhealthy patterns of self-destruction. To stop him from choosing such a horrible fate, Naho must show Kankeru how to live. To do that she must take his burdens away, and to do that she must take them on herself.
There is no better example of such a friend then the one I have in Jesus. Through Him, I have found life, and an everlasting one at that. He took my burdens, my bruises, and carried them to the cross. He saved me from my imminent death, just as Naho Takamiya tries to do for Kakeru Naruse.
The first step in the process of leading someone to choose life over death lies in something both Jesus and Naho do quite well, and that is reaching out toward the loved one in need of desperate attention. While Jesus did this quite literally by extending the length of his arms to be nailed on the cross, Naho approached this part of the procedure in the form of a text.
In order to check up on the spiritual state of our friends, we must first examine their emotional condition, the latter being a sure indicator of the former. As unsaved soul cries for help, it is only those that are listening that will be able to hear it. While Naho realizes such encouragement alone can’t save a person, she uses it as a springboard to dive deeper into the relationship, hoping that she will one day be able to get to the heart of the problem (pun intended).
After urging Kakeru to open up to her and feeling like she is only causing more pain, Naho turns to a greater authority. The girl finds comfort in Hiroto Suwa, a boy who most definitely has a crush on her, but is even more compassionate when it comes to a friend in need. It’s no coincidence that Naho came to Suwa out of desperation. Minimal chit-chat is all that’s required before both discover the other has received a letter and is working to live according to its guidelines in order to save Kakeru.
We too should pursue someone else when we struggle to win over others from spiritual death into spiritual life. Our omnipotent, omnipresent Lord knows best the heart of those who are hurting (Psalm 34:19), so wouldn’t it make sense to pursue Him in light of this? Also, if God is the One Who Grants Life, who are we to think we can do any soul-saving on our own? The Bible harbors additional support to this question. In John 15:5 we learn how apart from Him we can do nothing, and in Psalm 121:2 the writer deems that all strength and power comes from the Lord.
But it wasn’t just a person Naho confided in, if you remember. She and Suwa both consulted the words of the letters from their future selves. We can do that too, in our own way I suppose. The Bible is like those letters in that it’s an insight to the horrible fate that lies ahead for those who don’t let it transform their lives. I explored this observation in a previous article, and you can revisit it if that’s a topic that interests you. The main thing I want you to grasp from this present article though is that life isn’t easy. There are times when you’ll feel disheartened, and there are times when others will need you more than you know. It is in those times when you should look to the example of Naho and Jesus, Suwa and the letters. Encourage. Pry. Lean. Delve. And hopefully, both you and your companions will discover the sense of renewal that only comes through the process of choosing life over death.