“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
–William Shakespeare (from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques).
The world’s a stage
We may concede, along with Shakespeare, that this life we live is a play, with its costumes, its lines, its drama, its comedy, and its tragedy. If this is a play, though, there’s no use repeating Act I forever.
Significance for eternity
One of the most influential videos I’ve ever seen in my life is a John Piper sermon video titled “don’t waste your life.” It’s a seven minute clip from a message he gave sometime in the 90’s. He is speaking to college students, warning them against the American dream. He claims that the only real tragedies in this world are the ones that leave us with no significance for eternity, and no good story to tell when we give an account for our lives, standing before God.
He mournfully warns against the popular theme in our culture to become as comfortable and “happy” as possible. We become comfortable and happy, yet waste our lives because we have no impact on eternity, for ourselves, others, or the Kingdom of God. His challenge for us is: don’t waste your life. My challenge for you is: don’t waste your summer.
What makes us matter?
This video, along with some important relationships in my life, have gotten me thinking about my life and the time I’m given. In any good play, there is character development. If you are the character of your play, you can’t stay static. As plot lines unfold, the character changes, he or she becomes more strong, more loving, more human. Where the usefulness of this analogy for this post crumbles, though, is in the enactor of this change. Most of the time, in movies and plays, the catalyst creating the character development is the collection of external circumstances that surrounds the character and pushes him this way and that way toward becoming the better person he or she will become.
This cannot be how we use our time. We cannot wait for the whims of our circumstances to push us toward godliness, usefulness, happiness, or holiness. The enactor of change in our lives may, at times, be our circumstances, but this isn’t the way we are to matter for eternity. Jesus, in a verse I use a lot, John 15:5, says that apart from Him, we can do nothing. In Colossians 1:17, Paul writes that Jesus was before all things, and in Him all things hold together. The way we change, matter, develop, or whatever, is by embracing Jesus, because He is the enactor of change.
Most of us live lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau has written, waiting for some wind of magical circumstance to blow us into eternal significance. What we often don’t realize is that we could be transformed by August, if we simply took firm hold of the calling to which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1), trusting that, as 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells us, the God who calls us is faithful, and that He will surely do it.
So for this summer, what do you want to change? Who do you want to become? Is it a sticky sin that you want to flick away? Is it a character flaw that you want to submit to God? Is it a community you want to build? A person you want to see come to saving faith in Jesus? Will you waste your summer, or will you trust it to God, who is holding all things together?