There Are No Rough Drafts

Living means writing your every word and action and thought and drool spot down in forever. It means writing your story within the Story. It means being terrible at it. It means failing and knowing that, somehow, all of our messes will still contribute, that the creative God has merely given Himself a greater challenge–drawing glory from our clumsy botching of the past. We are like factory workers in a slapstick comedy, standing at our positions beside the too-fast conveyor belt that flings the future and all of our possible actions at us. Corn syrup and food coloring everywhere (along with cheese and ceramic figurines).

—N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, 166

Of Mortal Ills Notwithstanding

You cannot throw a diva fit backstage in this production and force the understudy to take your place. You are in every scene. You are on the field for every play. And you go into the next one and the next one and the next one carrying the baggage and the wounds and the weariness of the last one and the last one and the last one.

—N. D. Wilson, Death by Living, 106

Hard to Find, Harder to Miss

Good Story: a linked thread of occurrence, real or fictitious, in, around, and after trouble of some degree or sequence, in which the triune nature is consistently revealed with artistry either through the real actions and choices of particular characters, the author’s direct participation, or through the author’s indirect judgments latent in the choices of style and arrangement in the recounting.

—N. D. Wilson, Death by Living, 72

Like a Herd of Gerasene Swine

How did God do it? He is a much more disciplined writer than any human author. I can’t handle when a question hangs too long, let alone if the group’s answers are rushing down a steep bank like a herd of Gerasene swine. But He held back for what seems to us like an eternity before crushing Christ and then raising Him from the grave.

The moon and stars created on the fourth day lit the stage. The first garden and the talking serpent were a set up. The ark and Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were all harbingers. Generations went, generations came, filling the earth, rejecting their Creator, waiting for a redeemer. God gave glimpses, foreshadowed the suffering and the salvation, yet He held the climax of a loving, glorious sacrifice under wraps even for most who read the script.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4–5)

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20–21)

The plot called for rebels, for a virgin, for a tree, for a perfect, spotless lamb. The rebels were easy to cast, but the Father had to give His only begotten Son as the substitute.

God knew from the beginning and we are still talking about how we didn’t see it coming, yet are so glad it did. The greatest chapter has been written; it is finished. But the final chapter hasn’t gone to press. The communion meal reminds us of one night when our Lord was betrayed, and it anticipates that feast coming up at a marriage supper of the Lamb. Everything is going according to the script, and the bread and cup are more than props.

That Movie Script We Wrote

We don’t want to diet, we want to diet while winning the $250,000 Jello grand prize for being the biggest loser while confetti drops from the rafters. We don’t want to go for a run, we want to cross the tape under Olympic stadium lights on our way to the gold medal stand. We don’t want to die to bring life, we want to sort of lay down on the soil’s surface and hope that Miracle Grow sized fruit will come anyway.

We get ourselves into trouble by some of the stories we tell ourselves. In doing so, we miss the amazing realities that Christ promises to us if we will just follow Him.

It’s not possible to be glorious and born in manger. Or is it? There’s no way to be glorious and walk around with fishermen and tax collectors for three years while they ask stupid questions. Or is there? It couldn’t be glorious to be beaten, spat on, executed after bloody torture for crimes one didn’t commit. Or could it be?

We really ought to pay attention to what Christ did and what He says to do. It can’t really be more joyful to give rather than to receive, can it? We can’t really increase our influence by asking someone for forgiveness, can we? We won’t really make a difference if we love our enemies, will we? We can’t really be strengthened in heart by eating a small piece of bread and drinking from a small cup, can we?

We can enjoy greater joy, we can lead with greater (eternal) effectiveness, we can be knit more closely together with yarns of different stripes, we can be strengthened with His glorious strength if we will believe Him.

We need to do the next right thing, not the next superstar thing. We need to believe what Christ says, not what we imagine He might have said if He had read that movie script we wrote for ourselves.