Co-Writing the Script of Your Life

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
A number of years ago I received a gracious invitation. 
Dr. Ben Johnson of Columbia Seminary, who was well known for encouraging young writers, asked if I would be interested in collaborating with him on a book about congregational renewal.  After thinking things over for approximately five seconds, I enthusiastically agreed.  
The book was Ben’s idea.  He knew the points he wanted to make.  He was the one who made the arrangements with the publisher.  My job was to add illustrative material to each chapter based on my field experience as a pastor. 
Ben generously called the final product “our” book.  But it was really vintage Ben Johnson with some Glenn McDonald thrown in here and there. 
Adam Hamilton, lead pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, wonders if such collaboration might be a good way to picture how God’s will is shaped in our lives.
He questions a view that’s been embraced by a number of preachers – that God has handed each of us a perfect script for our lives, something composed even before we came into the world.  Our job is to stand on life’s stage and read our part, word perfect.  But that makes us little more than robots – the Stepford children of God, not unlike the Stepford wives in the infamous suburban horror movie.
Hamilton notes that other preachers declare that while God has generated ideal blueprints for our lives, we’re still free to make our own choices. 
But what if we deviate at key moments?  What if you choose not to go to the meeting where you were supposed to meet your soul mate, and settle instead for Mister or Miss Second Best?  That means your God-ordained partner will also end up with their own version of Mister or Miss Second Best.  It gets really crazy when you start to grasp how that single missed meeting has now changed the identity and spiritual destiny of everybody’s kids.
In order to get us back on track, God must become something like a cosmic GPS.  Stumbling, sinful, self-absorbed people (that would be all of us) must experience never-ending course corrections to restore us to the path of his choice. 
Or maybe, just maybe, God’s will for our lives is more like a collaborative project. 
God is writing the narrative for our lives.  That’s his prerogative as a sovereign deity.  Human existence, after all, is his invention.  Therefore he has a pretty good idea what it would mean to experience a life well-lived.  But God also grants us an astonishing freedom:  He graciously invites us to be co-authors of our own lives – to help shape our own script as we move forward.   
Hamilton suggests that this is akin to the experience of most parents. 
We cherish dreams for our kids.  We have a general sense of the life events that will bring them joy.  We yearn for them to grow up to be people of integrity, to make wise decisions, to find true love, to move out of the house before they turn 30, to trust God, to be generous servants, to have kids of their own, and on and on.  Healthy parents try to give their kids tools to help them make such healthy choices. 
But, in the end, our children may choose not to use those tools.  They may make decisions that break our hearts and defy our expectations.  And we can’t do anything about it.  That’s what it means for kids to grow up.
Yet they’re also able, at any given moment, to revise their choices.  That’s what it means for grown-up kids to be free. 
No single metaphor can possibly capture the mystery and complexity of what it means to be led by God.  But if we see our lives as a story that is being continuously written, it becomes clear that we have crucial contributions to make, even though God is the primary author.  
We can choose to shut God out.  “Lord, I get to write the chapter on my love life.  And I don’t need your interference when I’m figuring out how to deal with that manager who fired me.” 
Or we can decide to write those same chapters in collaboration with the One who made us, in which case the story will have a very different ending. 
Because of sin, our stories will inevitably include some dark and warped moments, especially when we’re afraid to let God be Editor-in-Chief.    
But his ultimate intention for us has never changed.  He has always wanted the scripts of our lives to be about faith, hope, love, and redemption.
So who’s in charge of the narrative arc of your life this summer?   
Are you willing to let the Author of life assume the primary role as you work together on your next chapter?