I got to thinking about how our lives are played out – like a movie or play – the various acts, scenes, dialogues, etc. If it was you who had to write the screenplay of your life you would probably break it into acts: First – early childhood, then adolescence, young adulthood and possibly marriage, family, mid life, and so on. Each act would have a variety of scenes, highlights that would capture the essence of the times, places and people that come into and out of your life. Some scenes you might remember as fleeting glimpses, barely thoughts, while others would be long and extended period pieces – all from your perspective, your camera angle, and your particular editing. Probably a lot of stuff would be left on the cutting room floor, some other scenes enhanced for dramatic effect possibly stretching the truth so that it would need to be qualified as simply ‘based on a true story’. Most of us would be concerned about looking good, and giving others a good impression when we tell our story, sit back and hit the ‘play’ button.
Thinking that we only have limited control over how our life-story develops, I then thought of all the scenes that may have turned out differently, you know, alternate endings which some movies or video games offer. (The movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ comes to mind.) I wonder what might have been if my friend Pete and I happened to be looking in the other direction and missed the Las Vegas marquee that had us go to that Allman Brother’s concert where I met my wife, Ellie…what would my life be like today? I think about the several times that I could have easily been killed behind the wheel of my car: like driving home from Brooklyn back in the ‘80s one night so drunk that I could not remember getting home. Or the time I woke up in a hospital with a doctor stitching up my head from a head on collision with a taxi that turned in front of me. There was a childhood illness that I barely remember where my fever was so high I had hallucinations. All of the scenes which could have turned out very differently and have now led me to the act in which I presently find myself. I can’t help but believe that it is the skilled hand of my Divine Director that has pieced this story together, fully aware of all those potential outcomes, and His guidance each time my life-story would turn.
But the truth of the matter is that at every point during our life-story – even at this moment – our Director has us in the spot where we need to be to tell His story. That spot may be a great place, full of happiness and peace, for which we would give God all praise and glory for getting us there. Or, many times it is in a place of trial and torment, sadness or dis-ease, which would then allow us to model to others a Christ-like persona of trust and strength in God, or maybe perseverance or compassion. Either way it all serves to tell God’s story of His eternal love of us, and the only script we are given regardless of the scene, the act or the circumstance reads the same:
“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt 22:38-38
It is easy to play our parts and to love God and even our neighbors when things are all just peachy. But each one of us will have difficulty ‘sticking to the script’, and our love and faith tested, when things turn south, and we are in the midst of apparent devastation. At this point it becomes easy to ad lib and seek out our own interpretations of the Master’s plan. We begin to allow our own emotions to direct us as we contemplate all of the possible endings, forgetting that God is still in control, regardless. We forget to simply get back to the script, and then accept guidance from our Director.
And this is the point: We all think the story is ‘all about us’ – about our own little personal life. About how we feel and how we hurt and how we need and what we want. Nothing can be further from the truth. You will come to understand, if you have not already, that it’s all about God and His plan. As long as we remain in our present roles as players on this stage, God’s script is to have each of us help the other to be with Him eternally, whatever that role may take. And if the Director needs me to stand in a place of abundance and sing His praise, or in a place of suffering and seek His strength, so that in the end either me or one of His other children are saved, well I’m beginning to see that this is the role for which I was made, and nothing more.