Everyone loves a well told story. This weekend millions of people will spend even more millions of dollars at the movies. They’ll see comedies and tragedies, romance and thrillers. We’ll pay our $8, slip into the theater with a bucket of popcorn and an ocean of soda, sit back and relax as we’re introduced to characters who will face unimaginable circumstances and fight to overcome overwhelming odds. We’ll cheer for the hero and boo at the villain. We’ll cry with the heartbroken and laugh at the idiot. We do all this to be entertained. Sometimes, to be distracted. And often to be reminded that, as stressful as life may be, no one has shot at us lately. Nothing has exploded near us. We’ve not been stranded in a frozen wasteland, chased by undead monsters or forced to choose between our one true love and the family fortune. Real life may be stressful, but it’s not as tough as those poor saps we see on the big screen. I find that comforting. Well, comforting and maybe a little disappointing.
Every story follows a similar pattern. It’s a three act play.
- Act 1 – Setup. We’re introduced to a new world and the characters that live in it.
- Act 2 – Confrontation. Our hero falls into trouble that must be overcome.
- Act 3 – Resolution. When all seems lost and against all odds, somehow our hero finds a way.
The setup allows us to identify with and like the main characters. The confrontation makes the story interesting and gives the characters a catalyst for growth. But the resolution…the resolution is why we watch in the first place. The resolution is how they fix things. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the villain going down in flames, getting his just rewards. It’s our hero’s happily-ever-after. We like to see how things turn out at the end and we like the end to turn out well.
Now imagine if we ended the story early. Cinderella leaves her glass slipper. The magic fades. She returns to be a slave to her wicked step-mother, but the prince never comes. Luke Skywalker meets Obi Wan and decides he’d rather be a farmer than learn the ways of the force and fight with the Rebellion. I don’t think we’d remember the Titans if the players didn’t overcome their differences to win the championship game.
It reminds me of a simple truth. Happily-ever-after is about where the story ends.
Where are you in your story?
God is writing a masterpiece in you. It’s filled with tragedy, triumph, comedy and drama. It’s a story designed to grow your faith, shape your character, and draw you close to Him. It’s a story to be continued.
What chapter do you find yourself in right now? Don’t give up. This isn’t where the story ends.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14