What Kind of Story?
There are times when I wish my life had a musical soundtrack to I could get a foretaste of what was coming up next. You know how that works in movies. The suspense music comes on when things are about to get tense. The sunshine music plays when all is well and you are walking through life holding hands with a friend. Mushy music comes on at mushy times, anger music when somebody is about to get mad. It is usually just enough lead time to get you prepared for what’s next so you can anticipate it. That would be awesome!
In the Lord of the Rings, Sam asks Frodo, “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” We, sitting comfortably in the theatre munching popcorn know what type of tale this is but those in the middle of the story don’t really have a clue. We can see the signs, feel the music get more tense by the moment, see the skies darkening. You don’t get to see that in your own story.
In our own story we don’t see the signs. We don’t see the coming challenges, don’t feel the impending losses or see that one you love will leave. We don’t get to know when joy will spring upon us or grief will overtake us, we just get to live the story out and see it unfold one month, one week, one day, one moment at a time. To be honest, I hate that!
I like a plan. One of my friends kids me incessantly about being the “plan man.” I plan what I’m going to do next, what I’m going to do six months from now, what I want to be when I grow up. My mind works in plans. I build entire worlds of preferred futures and then work on helping them come to pass. When my plans go awry, when my dreams crumble I am not a happy camper. I don’t mind adjusting the plan, that is why you have a plan, so that when the unexpected occurs you have something to fall back to and adjust, but the world doesn’t work that way.
Jesus tells a story about the farmer with the bountiful harvest who tears down barns to build bigger barns figuring he is set for life. That night all his plans get washed away as well, he dies. It really doesn’t matter what you are planning to do tomorrow if you die today.
How do you live in that tension between being wise and good stewards of your time and resources, planning for tomorrow without sacrificing the joy of today? To be honest I don’t have a clue. I have spent some time reflecting on “living like I am dying” as the country song says, but certainly haven’t mastered it yet. I struggle with practicing the presence of Christ in my life every day so as to get the greatest joy out of the simplest things but lingering in the back of my soul is the desire for a better tomorrow. It is in this tension, between today and tomorrow when I am most glad that I am:
Lost in Grace,
Gracious God give me, this day, my daily bread for that is all that I may be able to receive. Heal me from the pain of loss that I have suffered yesterday so that I may fully live today. Free me from the obsession with tomorrow that I might see the blessings of this sunrise and sunset. Help me embrace every day as Your day and as a gift from You, my Lord and my King. In Jesus name, amen.