Monday, March 9, 2020

Title Character

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him." Philippians 3:7-9a NIV
   I like a good television drama. I want a little uncertainty, and little action, some tears maybe. I wanted to be reminded of my humanity. I like to get invested in the characters, and vicariously experience their ups-and-downs, even in situations that I am 100% certain I will never find myself in.

   But at the end of the day, I want to know for sure that the characters I love the most are going to stick around for another episode. If I have given them precious hours of my life, I don't want to find myself crying at their (albeit imaginary) funerals. At the end of my forty-or-so minute roller coaster ride I don't mind not knowing everything, I want to be kept guessing within reason, but I don't want to have to contemplate that the show might go on without the player I've pinned my hopes.

    And when I am most frustrated by the way the script twists and turns, leaving me hanging, and fearful for the outcome, I often ask myself this: how important is this character to the show? How long have they been around? Is there a foreseeable future to their arc?

    When I begin that type of inquisition, I find that there is one answer that always satisfies: the title character. If the person in question is the title character I know: they're going to hang around. And regardless of what happens, they will either be there or the show will be over. Because it is pretty darn impossible to have a television show about someone when they're not in it. There will be highs. There will be lows. I will probably cry. I might laugh. I may be confused, knowing me that is more than likely. But I can count on that character being there, no matter what else occurs.

     Real life is more chaotic than any television drama will ever be. We watch TV because it redirects our thoughts from our own problems to those of someone else-and we get to turn those off whenever we want. We don't have any indicators for when, in our own lives, those very real characters we call our fellow human beings will exit the stage, and here poverty, illness, death and troubles of all kinds are very much tangible realities.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV (emphasis mine)
   See, thankfully, none of us is the title character. As much as I want "my" life to be about me, all of this is really all about Him. When Paul talks about the "surpassing worth" of knowing Christ, and how everything else (and I love this particular translation) is "garbage", that resonates so deeply with me. What a relief it is to know that I am not the point of the show! That is far too important of a role for someone with my talents, or lack thereof. I am more than happy to be a bit part in this story. He can have center stage, all day, every day. I know there is no way the show will go on without Him.

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