“What if you had a universal remote that controlled your universe?” – tagline from the film Click
Imagine the ability to fast-forward, rewind, or pause your very existence. What if you could skip ahead to the next season of life? Relive your heyday? Pause and return to the featured program at a later date?
Not gonna lie: I may be drooling over the idea of a pause button at the moment. After a Murphy’s Law sort of week, I’d consider selling some organs on the black-market to be able to hit pause for a while.
As lovely as it may be to consider the possibilities, most people would agree that having a universal remote to control our every day existence is a horrible idea. After all, we are who we are because of the things we have experienced. [If you aren’t convinced, just google Click to see how well that film was received.]
Until technology advances enough to pause life in real-time, discussing the ability to fast-forward or rewind our current lives isn’t very useful. So, can I ask you a related question?
What if your life was made into a film?
Would you want to watch it straight through in theaters? Or would you rather view it at home with a remote in hand? Maybe you’d want to see everything in high definition from beginning to end. But, would it be wrong to skip over the moments that are a little too painful to watch?
- “Mommy, I think I need a bandaid.” A dog barks in the distance as the camera pans from a horrified mother’s face to the young child’s forearm- a mangled mess of blood and flesh. *Click*
- As the door flies off the hinges and the screaming amplifies,the camera zooms on a child hiding in the stairwell in the next room. Just as she peeks around the corner, the man’s fist lunges toward her mother’s face… *Click* *Click* *Click*
- The echo of rainfall and shuffling footsteps is broken by a wave of expletives. Flashbacks replay the events of the last ten minutes. Wake up. Fight. Door slamming. Checking empty pockets. Walking away with no place to go and no one to trust. Abruptly she drops down in the middle of the street corner and buries her head between her knees as if to say “I give up”… *click*
If my life were a television show, I honestly think I’d fast-forward through most of the episodes. Too graphic. Too awkward. Too violent. Too uncomfortable. Too melodramatic. Too much vulgar language. Too many illicit substances. *Click*
Let’s skip over all that messy stuff. Can we just scene select and watch the good parts over and over again?
What about the scene where the young basketball star’s mother tells her how proud she is of her? Or that time where the protagonist was awarded all those scholarships to fund her college education? Or when she is sitting on the edge of the sea watching the sunset and her voice-over shares what she learned through her summer adventure?
One of my biggest fears is that God will force us to go through a “life review”. Imagine sitting down in front of a white screen as an old fashion projector starts turning. The screen flickers to life, beginning to reveal every moment of the last several decades. The very thought makes me want to vomit, but the idea of reaching the end of my life without reviewing my own story is even worse.
Creating my storyboard…
The first several weeks of the 7th Year e-journey involves examining your life as a film and/or plotting out a timeline of significant moments in your journey. This week, I added a row of my happiest memories and a row of my most painful experiences.
Take a guess which was more difficult. If you said painful experiences, I wish I could congratulate you, but you’re wrong. Recalling the happy times proved to be more challenging. I included memories at the amusement park, family vacations, conferences, spiritual breakthroughs and adventures with friends.. but overall, I couldn’t think of many things to write down.
When it came time for painful experiences, I had a plethora of things to list. The amount of pen on the paper quadrupled. On paper, my adversities really seem to shine through. I wanted so badly to go back to the other row and add more happy moments to balance out the timeline. I looked through pictures, tried to walk through year by year, prayed for God to reveal more of those memorable Kodak moments… but alas, I couldn’t think of anything else to add without compromising the integrity of the exercise.
Why does this look like a poorly written soap opera?
We could evaluate why the bad in my life seems to far outweigh the good on paper, but somehow I don’t think I’m the only one who has an easier time writing down painful memories than pleasant experiences.
“How was your day?” Horrible. I spent three hours in the doctors office and his suggestion was a specialist. I have no health insurance. The check engine light is on in my car. It’s raining. I have so much to do…
I wish I could say that is a purely fictitious illustration crafted to prove my point. Sadly though, it is a snippet from last night’s conversation with my roommate. Why couldn’t I have said
My day was a little frustrating, but on the bright side, my job is flexible enough where I can take the day off when I’m sick. I had enough money to cover my appointment even without insurance. Thankfully, my doctor thinks a specialist could help. And, I was able to park a block from the office and avoid getting drenched.
It’s so interesting how much we dwell on the things that we would rather fast-forward through. Why wouldn’t I share the highlights instead? I’m not saying to gloss over difficult circumstances, but I do think that it takes more intentionality to count your blessings than to curse your problems.
God’s gift to us: the 7th day and the 7th year.
As I long for a pause button, I understand why God demanded that we build one into our schedules. He knows that we often focus on how much we can get done, how many things have gone wrong, and what needs to happen for things to improve. God understands long hours, difficult relationships, and the stresses of daily life. In an effort to remind us of how blessed we are so that we can enjoy the life He has given us, God ordered man to “honor the Sabbath”.
Honor times of rest. Take a day off to focus on the bigger picture. Worship me, do something fun, get some extra sleep, spend time with friends… devote the 7th day to resting.
It’s a simple command. One that we should enjoy. Who doesn’t like a day off? So, why don’t we obey it? For many, Sabbath means go to church or don’t go to work, but it doesn’t actually mean rest. And really, it’s so much more than that. It’s a lost art of taking a day to renew our perspective.
Knowing that we’d miss the point, God gifted us another form of rest: the 7th Year. A year of Sabbath. A year of rest. A year for the Lord. (Lev. 25:1-7)
It was a year when everything was reset and everyone started over. How awesome is that? Could you imagine everyone taking a year off together? How much stronger would our communities be? How much happier would we be? It sounds like the best plan for society ever created.
Agreed, so what now?
I obviously can’t take this year completely off. My student loan debt won’t be erased, and I do not expect a redistribution of wealth to work in my favor any time soon. However, I can choose to observe both a 7th day and a 7th year of rest.
For me, this begins with a reminder that God does not keep a reel of footage of my darkest secrets, waiting for the day He can replay it before my eyes. That’s simply not the God of the Bible. He prefers times of Jubilee and fresh starts. And, that’s a concept I can learn to embrace.
Which means that I need to offer others the same opportunity. I need to intentionally forgive debts, to give generously, and to celebrate my community. As I write this during a year of transition, I feel like God is saying “this is your time of rest. Refocus on me. Embrace a fresh start. Take the time to enjoy this space I am giving you.”
I’m beginning to imagine how spending this year intentionally focusing on God/restoring my life to a healthy equilibrium could radically change my future. As I dream of the possibilities, I’m learning that both the 7th day and the 7th year are not optional. They were given as commandments because they are essential, crucial to our ability to truly live.
How could a period of Jubilee impact your life? Imagine the possibilities…
This post is part of a weekly series detailing my experience with The 7th Year e-journey. Click here for more details.