Life Goes Off-Script

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I was in a play in sixth grade, The Nuremburg Stove. The story is about a poverty-stricken father and his four daughters who have only one proud possession – a beautiful antique stove. The self-appointed guardian of the stove is Tina, who feeds it, hugs it, and gives it a name: Hirschvogel. Then, in desperation, the father sells the stove, which is where the real story begins as Tina refuses to stand by and watch the family’s treasure disappear. I played one of the sisters and delivered my lines flawlessly, not because I was a talented actor, but because I was deathly afraid of messing up the whole production for myself and everyone else. I still have this problem in real life, but that’s another story. Somewhere about halfway through the play, a girl who played one of the other sisters went off-script. She forgot her lines and started going in all directions. I thought it was my job to bring her back to the script, and so I fed her lines, prompted her, and even stepped in and delivered her lines a few times. It never really worked and I was relieved when the play was over.

I don’t like improv.

I like scripts.

In fact, scripts make me feel comfortable and secure and so I have one for my life. Here’s the cast: happy marriage, obedient kids, financial security, healthy body, uncomplicated relationships, and a good reputation. And the cast has a script, and I don’t like it when the players go rogue and start doing improv. That happened two weeks ago. The financial security cast member went off-script. Here’s the story: Several years ago we ended up owning two houses (which really should not have been in the script either). One of those houses we live in, and one of them is in Shawnee, Okla., where we do not live. So we tried to sell the Shawnee house. It a great house, but there are three little issues: it needs a little cosmetic lift on the inside, it’s in a small town, and it was built in the 1920’s. There is a certain kind of person who would love this historic old home. We’re people like that, but apparently other people like us were in short supply when we put the For Sale sign in the yard, so it sat for a while as we bled cash. And then someone came along who fell in love with the house, and he asked if he could rent it until he had the cash on hand to buy it. “Yes! yes!” we shouted, because we thought this fit well into the script. As it turns out, he paid the rent and utilities for a year – which stopped the cash hemorrhaging – but then he ran into money trouble and had to move out. So now the sign is back in the yard and we’re back to square one.

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This was not in the script.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought about these scripts that we write for our lives. We all do it, but some are better than others when life does not follow the script. People like me get nervous and think that it’s our job to prompt, hint, feed lines, and try desperately to take control of the production. But I think God is more into improv than scripts. And I’m sure this has everything to do with walking by faith and opening our hands to give back to Him everything that we think we own and control. I’m doing neither of these things well these days, and I don’t particularly like the way this production seems to be headed. Or maybe what bothers me most is that I don’t know which way it’s headed.

Admittedly, I’m a person who likes to take control, so I must be careful not to try to predict how things will end. Sometimes it’s best just to let life go off-script and trust that it’s going to be a really good ending. But I am caught between action and waiting. I have a hard time knowing when the time is right to get busy doing, and when it’s better to sit back and just trust. So here is one thing I’m doing, for better or worse.

Here’s a link to our really awesome house in Shawnee. You just might know someone who wants to buy such a house. Or maybe you’re just curious to look since I’ve hyped it up a bit.

Now, I’m just going to take a deep breath. I’m trusting that God will help me learn how to go off-script and wait for the unpredictable ending – the one that He has already written.

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