My favorite TV series, Studio 60, is about the making of a comedy show (sort of like Saturday Night Live).
There’s this one episode I keep thinking about today. They make a million mistakes in the shooting of the show and have to keep going live on air to try to fix their errors.
At the very end of the show, the camera cuts to the actor given the job of trying to untangle the mess they’ve made of the show. He looks at the camera and says, in a somewhat tense voice:
“This is NOT the comedy we intended to do when the week began”.
That’s how I feel about my life a little today.
This is NOT the life I intended to lead when this whole thing began.
I’m not sure what my plan for my life was, but it wasn’t this one. I’m sure it involved screwing things up less; making better decisions. In my plan, people were healthy and happy and all my relationships are trial free and filled with love.
I keep looking around my current circumstances a little bemused. The line from Studio 60 keeps running through my head: ‘this is NOT the comedy we intended to do when the week began’.
This just isn’t the week I intended to have when the week began. This isn’t the year I intended to have when this year began. This isn’t the life I intended to lead when this whole thing began.
Nevertheless, this is the life I have.
And according to God, it’s the perfect life for me today.
I know that because of promises. Gosh. Gotta love promises.
They come in handy in those moments when life slows enough for you to lift your head and take a look around and realize the landscape of this life is a little different from the way you might have made it.
Promises are made for the moments when life looks hopeless.
Promises are designed to kick in and hold something out to you that can incentivize you to hang on through the toughest times.
If Abraham & Sarah had been fertile, they wouldn’t have needed a promise from God of a son. They needed the promise precisely because circumstances stood in the way.
They needed the promise because they couldn’t see a child in their future. They needed the promise to reassure them that no matter how things seemed, they were still on the track to the right destination.
God gives us promises because there are times when life crowds in around us and everything gets a little dark and dim and we can’t quite make out the destination up ahead. His promises come into our doubt and speak light. His word is a lamp unto our feet; it lets us know what is ahead when it gets hard to see.
The life I planned was pretty neat. But it’s not the life I have.
I still plan for myself a life that I think is pretty neat. On days like this I have to put my hand over my mouth to make myself stop strategizing and planning and explain to God how we can still turn this thing around. It’s not too late, we could still do this; we could still ‘redeem’ this life and make it the story that I always hoped it would be.
But the promise of His word is that neither the story I planned, nor the story this could yet become are the right story for me today.
Today this is the right story for me. The story I am in is the perfect story for me and the perfect story for Him.
No matter how it seems to you today, you’re in the right story.
And really – I wish I had more to say.
I wish I could tell you that knowing that makes my circumstances feel warm and fuzzy. Now – in this moment my heart is just trying to find air to make it through the next ten minutes. Now – in this moment my mind doesn’t seem able to participate in the life I’ve been given. When I try to power it up it just reboots – unwilling to engage in my story.
But in the midst of life rushing around me, there is an ember of faith in my heart that is softly smoldering. And as circumstance creeps in to crush and deny that ember of faith, I can squeeze my eyes shut and wrap my arms tightly around the promise I know to be true: this is the story for me.
I can wrap my arms around the great and precious promise of Romans 8: this is all happening for my good and God’s glory.
The Word has wrapped itself around me. It is nurturing and protecting that deep ember of faith, and it will not let it go out. It will not let it be destroyed by these winds. It will feed and fan the ember until it becomes a flicker of fire burning through this storm, lighting up the world around me.