TRUE STORY: The boy who could have been a model — Mark Roberts

Written by Mark Roberts on Nov 8 2021

Colossus of Rhodes. (PHOTO: flickr)


The Colossus of Rhodes was a gigantic statue of the Titan, Helios: The sun god, who stood 100 feet (30.48m) tall and rested on a marble pedestal, fifty feet (30,24m) high. The statue stood in the Greek city of Rhodes, sculptured by Charles of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC and regarded in its time as one of the seven wonders of the world. It took 12 years to complete and stood for 56 years until an earthquake caused it to shatter into hundreds of pieces, where it has laid for 2 000 years. A masterpiece in pieces.

Why am I telling you this? Well, a few years ago a young man named Jean pulled into the driveway of the farm complex. If you could try to imagine what a Greek god looked like, then Jean was the ultimate manifestation of that thought. Extremely good-looking, well defined and the most amazing personality made him the centre of attention for weeks at the farm. The girls in the rehab seemed to change overnight, from being vixens and witches to ladies and princesses, all vying for his attention. Even my eight-year-old daughter, Chloe was smitten and followed him around everywhere, enraptured by every word and wink.

Jean was an addict but the thing that amazed me was that he was soft natured, kind and most gentleman-like with the women. He didn’t flirt or seek attention (not that he needed to), but there was something genuinely likeable about him, something endearing. 

I dealt with Jean for several months and our counselling sessions were most fruitful and over time a new figure began to emerge until one fateful weekend when he went home. He slipped out for a night on the town with his old friends and ‘used’ again. On the Sunday evening when he returned to the farm, I could see something was wrong but I didn’t pursue it, wanting to give him time and space and to allow him to make the first move, if he would. Sure enough, during our early morning walk he couldn’t keep it in any longer: “Mark, I used this weekend!” he cried and with tears pouring down his face he grabbed me and hugged me, holding on to a father figure he had never had the privilege of knowing. I had a choice: I could throw him out and wipe away months of intense work like it had never happened, or I could speak like a dad and tell him it was going to be okay and that I myself had been pulled out of the drain a few times in my life. However, I did not condone his actions of the weekend and I could have laid it on thick, but he already knew what he had done wrong and he was dealing with guilt. I praised his truthfulness and I knew God would again pick up the pieces. It’s a terribly sad thing to see a person who sees no value in himself because until he does, he will never have purpose and unless we have a purpose, there is no room for hope. It is a vicious circle in the struggle of life and not all the knights in their shining armor become heroes.

Jean cried for about an hour, heartbroken for the pain he had caused his mother and aunt who loved him so. This was the earthquake moment I had been waiting for and all I could do was watch the great Titan, like the Helios of Colossus come tumbling down, shattered into a million pieces. The Titan was finally broken. For the first time in his life, Jean saw the destruction he had caused, truly saw his own brokenness and as he stared at the shattered pieces he said: “I don’t know how to put the pieces together again”. His inability to let go of feelings of rejection (by his father) and the disappointments he had seen on his mom and aunt’s faces was like a giant stick that he used to punish himself. Like a conductor’s stick, he conducted a symphony to an orchestra composed of disappointments, guilt and anger and what proceeded, sounded more like a requiem than a masterpiece. We had to change the nature of the stick and help him see and hear the masterpiece: a one-of-a-kind song about Jean. We all have a conductor stick and we lead the song of life based on our visual interpretation of life. For a consistent rendition of your song, the stick should be in God’s hand, otherwise you’ll never understand the purpose of the orchestra, never hear the greatest melody and therefore you’ll continuously move between self-condemnation, judgement and guilt. The stick in your own hand can very often lead to your demise.

Take his namesake for example: Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), a talented and gifted musician and conductor, considered the father of French opera. He pioneered the concept of the ‘conductor’s stick’ but it proved to be fatal and actually led to his death. One day, during a rehearsal he struck his foot with a “conductor’s staff” in anger, resulting in his foot turning gangrenous, killing him shortly thereafter. 

We have to learn that what the world sees as rubbish may very well be untrue and what it sees as good, may in fact be gangrenous. Just like opera; in many European operas, whistling actually means booing. When the world sees no transcendent value in man, what on earth does it use to measure value.

A few months later Jean left without any conductor stick or gangrenous foot and for a moment he seemed to resemble the Great Titan Helios of Rhodes in his former majestic glory. As he turned to wave, for a brief second, I was certain that I had just caught a glimpse of Jesus; the greatest conductor of all time.

Amazingly, on February 24th in 1988, Pavarotti received 165 curtain calls after singing in Berlin and did you know that the record for the longest applause at the opera is one hour and twenty minutes? Strange how the greatest opera was performed by the Creator on a hill called Calvary where He not only sang but acted out to a sold-out theatre audience and yet all He got was a few whistles, animal calls and boos.

Something really wrong with that picture. 

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One Comment

  1. There’s so much value in all the content that you share so beautifully pops. Thank you for sharing xxx

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