“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
William Shakespeare, As You Like It
I have often heard people compare life to theatre. Unfortunately, this connection often leads to the false assumption that life is nothing but fiction – a cruel illusion that has no purpose and is utterly pointless. Take the following quote, for example:
“‘All life is theatre,’ he said. ‘We are all actors, you and I, in a play which nobody wrote and which nobody will see. We have no audience but ourselves.’”
Susan Cooper, Silver on the Tree
Wow. I really can’t think of a more depressing thought.
Thank goodness this concept is completely false! Our lives certainly have an Author, and my friends, each of us is getting to play a role in the greatest drama of all time. Here’s a quote that I think captures life in a much better way:
“The point is the love story. We live in a love story in the midst of war.”
John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God
Our hearts long for a great story – an ultimate adventure full of romance, passion, and daring rescues. And that is exactly what life is like, if we’ll simply open our eyes to the truth. Here’s my own life, presented in Three Acts:
Act One: Created for Greatness
Just like every other human being, I was handcrafted by God to be exactly the way I am. Why? Because God loves to create in order to show the world the wonder and glory of Who He is (Isaiah 43:7).
But God didn’t just want me to be a silent trophy in a case – He fashioned me in His own image, meaning I am an eternal, spiritual being with a mind that craves relationship (Genesis 1:26-27).
And not just that – as soon as He came up with the idea of me, God immediately fell in love with me. He created me so that I could live forever in a relationship with Him… how could there be a happier ending? (John 15:9; I John 3:1)
Act Two: Influenced by Evil
But also like every other human being, my heart was born with a terminal disease. Satan deceived the first two humans into becoming infected in an effort to destroy this perfect relationship between man and God (Genesis 3:1-19), and since then every person has lived under the powerful influence of evil desires.
As a result, all human beings have chosen to put their own wants ahead of God (Romans 1:20-21) and have decided to try and run their own lives – me included (Romans 3:23). I thought I could be a good person on my own, without any help from God.
But here’s the thing: God is perfect. And if He joined in a relationship with someone like me, who was living selfishly and doing things that I knew was wrong (telling lies, being hurtful to others, wanting what other people had, imagining dark things) He wouldn’t be perfect anymore. It would be like Mother Theresa marrying a serial killer and choosing to simply look the other way – it would kind of taint her relationship, don’t you think? So because I decided to make selfish decisions and “do life on my own,” my perfect relationship with God was broken (Isaiah 59:2). He still loved me, but He couldn’t ignore all the terrible things I had done.
And because of this, I wasn’t headed for Heaven when I died. At this point in the story, it looked like Satan had won the battle for my heart and according to the Bible, if I died with in this condition of “heart disease,” then I couldn’t be allowed into a perfect Heaven. Instead, my soul would have to go somewhere else – a place where I’d be separated from God forever – and we usually call this place Hell.
People freak out when they hear that word, and they assume that I’m a crazy religious fanatic. But Scripture is clear that because of the wrong choices we’ve all made, we deserve to be separated from God forever, which is spiritual death (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46).
I realized that I deserved to be separated from God when my dad preached a sermon about this. For months, I had nightmares and couldn’t sleep – because I was afraid that I might not wake up again. I’m not upset with my dad for telling me about my condition, though, because Hell is a real place and I was really going there! If I had cancer, I’d want the doctors to tell me so I could fight it. And I’m so glad my dad told me about my own separation from God, so I could avoid this unthinkable future.
Act Three: A Bold Rescue
But here’s where the story gets really, really good. Even though I’d tried to live without God, He never stopped loving me. In fact, He has never stopped loving any of us. He loved mankind so much, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a man (John 3:16). Jesus (God on earth) chose to die the physical and spiritual death required by mankind’s wrongdoings on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).
But it didn’t end there. Remember the Easter Story? Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death forever, and returned to Heaven to reign as the glorious Lord of all for the rest of all time (I Corinthians 15:3-6).
And because of that victory, Jesus had the power to offer all human beings – including me – an incredible gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). He had already paid the price for the things I’d done wrong. If I simply recognized that Jesus is Who the Bible says He is, that He paid my penalty, and put my trust in Him (having faith that His sacrifice was enough to pay for my messed up life), then God would forgive me! And remember that perfect relationship that I had been created for? It would be restored… I could live with God for eternity, and fulfill the purpose I had been made for from the beginning (I John 5:11-13). Everything would come full circle, my life would feel complete, and I would get my happy ending.
One night I prayed to Jesus, and told Him I was sorry for doing so many wrong things. I told Him I knew I deserved to be separated from Him forever, but that I believed He was God’s Son, and that His death on the cross had paid the price I deserved, and I asked Him to come and live in me and make my heart clean again, and restore my perfect relationship with God. As soon as I prayed this prayer, my life changed forever. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace that I had never felt before. The nightmares went away, and I’ve been sleeping soundly ever since!
Jesus changed my life. And He can change yours, too.
Which Character Are You?
In this amazing drama, which role are you playing? Are you one of the redeemed, who have believed in Jesus and have been restored to walking with God for the rest of eternity? Or are you still trying to “do life” on your own, thinking that you really don’t need God?
If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart, I would encourage you not to wait. We never know how much time we have left on this earth, and this is more important than any other decision you’ll ever make.
This was a really long blog post – but it’s the greatest story I’ll ever have the privilege of telling.
Shakespeare was right – all the world’s a stage. And we’re part of an adventure – of a love story – even more compelling than any of the stories we’ve ever read or written down ourselves.
Dear readers, I’ll be praying for you as you read through my Life in Three Acts. My prayer for you?
That you’ll find your happy ending, too.