Curtain Call

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“All the world’s a stage.”

 William Shakespeare in As You Like It

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

My friend Deb works as a dedicated teacher’s aide to a little autistic girl in a K-4 class. Serving this child is her sole assignment. She guides her in paying attention to the classroom teacher in order to catch all the instructions and follow the articulated sequential steps for each learning assignment. Deb knows just what her charge needs having spent every school day morning with her over the past 5 months.

Similarly, our Friend, God’s Holy Spirit, knows us intimately, having lived IN us since we were transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus to live forever with the Triune God. In this realm, we have been assigned to a new life-giving theater or stage. No longer are we held captive by the evil scriptwriter, director and prison guard.

Recently, this metaphor of our Kingdom lives being played out daily on God’s stage has captivated my imagination. As I imagine the Kingdom of God as a theater, I picture myself showing up for another day’s drama.  The point at which I lay my head on my pillow is the close of that day’s drama. Slowly I am realizing that how today’s business ended is not at all an accurate basis for predicting tomorrow’s scenes.  If I try to forecast what will be expected of me and prep for it, I only rob myself of the restorative rest and energy I’ll need for tomorrows’ drama.

But, in God’s theater where I now live, I sometimes forget my new home, where I live. I can quickly fall into old habits of worry and anxiety. These are nothing but long-practiced reactions that created a groove in my brain. I spend little energy in being sucked back into these routines. I knew my lines well for nothing new ever happened in my former prescribed role as a pawn in Satan’s drama.

But each day in God’s drama, new, fresh and creative describe the dimensions in which I live and work. As Jamie Winship, my favorite author from last year, has written, our minds only deal in what has worked up to now. The mind has no fresh, new ideas. It only knows the past.

But here’s the good news about our infinite God who is always doing something new. He is the Creator and it is his nature to generate the novel, imaginative, and freshly beautiful. Stunning us brings him joy.  Sure, our daily scripts include the hard and painful, but we trust him, for he is good, wise, holy, righteous and wise. And he has eternal kingdom goals in mind

This kind of thinking is transforming me. I picture God the Father as the Holy Screenwriter.  Jesus is his Director, to whom each of us as Jesus’ student report morning by morning. Reassuringly, his Divine Spirit, aka our Acting Coach is ever present. 

The Spirit greets us with eager anticipation as soon as we awake, just as my friend Deb welcomes her small student with a smile.

Jesus hands us no script.  He and the Spirit alone have the Father’s playbook. But no worries, all has been prepped and planned. Our Coach supplies what we need at the right Kairos moment.

To me, it feels like I’m an improv actor, since I don’t know the day’s plans. This metaphor keeps me concentrating on the present moment.  I watch Jesus for cues.  I pay close attention to what my brother and sister actors are doing around me. I have my ear tuned and open to the Spirit, with whom I engage in ongoing dialogue.

I’m learning not to even think (or predict) what I will need for the day. How could I possibly imagine the day’s events, my interactions with people who cross my path, since I’m not privy to future plans.  My responsibility is to rely on Jesus and his Spirit.  My Coach is prepped.  He has at the ready all props and and costume changes I’ll require for the day.

Since there is no need to be anxious, I can relax and look forward to all that is new, beautiful and challenging the Father has in store.

So far, this seems to be a far less stressful to approach each day.  And I am growing quicker at catching myself ‘planning and worrying’ in the middle of the night. I remind myself of the futility and waste of God-ordained restorative time for one of his beloved family cast members.

What is love?

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Nestor Haddaway’s run-away hit posed the question in the ’90s. But it was ‘the head-bobbing, nightclubbing-addicted Butabi brothers’ that popularized the single on Saturday Night Live and later in the film Night at the Roxbury.

Love as a right, concept, ideal, and standard gets a lot of play in culture these days and it always has.  Just consider one of William Shakespeare’s many lines:

  • “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind” from A Midsummer Night’s dream.

Today, however, one seems to assume the liberty to define love any ‘ole way.  But does that make it right? And speaking of rights, who gets to define such weighty matters, anyway?

Listen in on a conversation between an imaginary Cultural Cathy and me:

Cultural Cathy – I have the right to define love as I see it

Me – Really? well how do you define love? and whose standards are you using?

CC – You must not have heard me, it’s up to me.  Right now, I feel a strong bond with Denise.  What we have is the ‘real thing’.  And it feels right.  So it is right for me. I feel loved and so does Denise.

Me – But you call yourself a Christian.  Don’t you have to submit to what the Bible teaches on love?

CC – But I AM following the Bible.  It says all over the Bible that  ‘God is love’.  And I actually can quote a verse, 1 John 4:7.  It goes like this: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Me – Good for you for knowing Scripture.  But we have to use God’s definition if we invoke His Truth.  Furthermore, it’s never enough to find and isolate one verse.  We have to see what the Author meant by looking at the context and other written evidence of what He thinks.   In this case, the Bible also teaches that God is Truth.  Do you remember how Jesus went around saying that He was the truth?  It follows then that Jesus is the standard of the truth.  And if you and I consider ourselves to be Christ-followers or Christian that implies that we stay to stay within the boundaries that Christ set.

CC – what’s truth have to do with love?

Me – good question.  Since you quoted John’s first letter – let’s just turn back a few pages to chapter 3, verse 18.  He writes: Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

CC – hmmm, so your point is??

Me – the deed part is the point.When we ‘love in deed and in truth’ we actually put God’s propositional truth (what He says and teaches, as the Bible documents) into action.  We DON’T get to choose or decide on the propositional truth that suits our temperaments.

David teaches us in one of his Psalms: Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;  Psalm 86:11

**

I don’t know what a Cultural Cathy would say in my fantasy conversation.  If we’re having this exchange at all, she likely would find a way to discount my points.

But we Christians need to know how God defines truth and love.  They are NOT relative. The world may claim authorship rights in determining definitions, but if someone calls himself a Christian, then we should at least be willing to engage with knowledge.  But as Peter exhorts us…with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

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