“All the world’s a stage,” said Shakespeare in As You Like It, “and all the men and women [are] merely players: They have their exits and their entrances.”
If Shakespeare had been a screenwriter instead of a playwright, he might well have said that all the world is a movie, and we all come into the movie at some point and exit at another. In one of Shakespeare’s more cynical moments, he has Macbeth say that life is only a shadow on the stage, a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Is the movie of life really pointless? The gospel says it is not—there is in fact a grand purpose—and a triumphant conclusion.
A movie of our own
Jesus is the great Screenwriter and Director of the movie of our lives. He created not only our roles, but us as well, and he shapes the screenplay of our lives into the grand epic he wants it to be. As the Master Storyteller, Jesus weaves us into the adventure of life eternal, the life of the never-ending age to come.
It is in Jesus that our lives have their true meaning. His resurrection is proof that he loves us. It is proof that he lives for us, intercedes for us and transforms us. In him our lives find their true meaning and purpose.
So much of life is out of our control. Things happen, and most of the time, we have little or no say. The unexpected and the unplan ned-for happen, and such events may be good or bad. We might plan for and work toward a goal, but because of circumstances beyond our control, that goal may never be realized.
We can’t control the stage, the scenes, or the other actors. But we can make decisions about how we will respond to the events that happen to us.
Many people respond to life with anger, re sentment and impatience, even bitterness. Instead of facing life with a tranquil spirit and making wise decisions about how to deal with whatever situations arise, they see everything in terms of whether or not it interferes with the pursuit of their own idea of happiness and pleasure.
When something gets in their way, they get angry and try to force their selfish will on others. They go through life stressed out, fearful and upset, always worried that they might not get what they want or keep what they have.
Life doesn’t have to be that way. If our trust is in the Director, we can let love and patience guide our responses to the events and circumstances of our daily lives. We can rest our spirits in the One who works all things together for our good. When things don’t go our way, we’re free in Christ not to stress out. We’re free to return good for evil. We don’t have to be afraid, because we cast all our cares on the One who loves us.
The never-ending sequel
We will all exit the story of life, leaving tasks undone, projects unfinished, stories incomplete. But on the other side of the silver screen is another story, a story into which Jesus Christ has written a part for us. In that story, loose ends are tied up, grief and tragedy are turned to joy, and wounds and betrayals are healed. It is a story of happy endings always getting better.
It is God’s great pleasure to make us part of that never-ending story. Even now, in Christ we are learning to live the kind of life appropriate for such eternal joy. We are learning to love others just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.
May we all have faith to look beyond the distress of the present moment and keep our hearts set on the triumphant finale, the finale that goes on forever. That’s something worth thinking about.