The Phantom of the Opera and Messy Lives

“Surely every one walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; they amass riches and are confused about how to gather them.  And now, Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in YOU!”  Psalm 39:7 (NASB)

Messy garfield I was as sick as a dog a week or so ago and, since I wasn't feeling too good, I laid around and watched one of my favorite musicals on DVD…"The Phantom of the Opera". This operetta is deep, tragic and full of real life. I was talking with my wife after I watched it and I sharied with her the fact that movies or plays with tragic or unhappy endings are usually the ones we remember the most. I went through a whole laundry list of things that we had seen together to prove my point…between Saving Private Ryan, Romeo and Juliet, Gladiator, and Braveheart (just to name a few), it is the same story. There is something about those types of artistic expressions that simply feel right. Have you ever wondered why? Here's my quick take – it feels right because that is the way life is…not everything and every human story has a happy ending. What is real is unpredictability…struggle and pain…brokenness and desperation…sometimes joy and sometimes weariness. I watched the movie and said, "Yep, that's what more of us see stories that don't end up where all the characters are fixed, rich, happy, healthy, stable, famous and fulfilled. We don't need the discouragement. Complete and total victory is NOT something that is guaranteed this side of the eternal Kingdom. What is predictable? Jesus.

As we journey through this life, Jesus is the only ONE whom we can surely bank on. He and His Kingdom provide the only hope that can transform the shattered dreams and broken lives that accompanies most of what we call living. Why doesn't someone start a church with the name, "Messy Lives Community Church"? You know, as I look at the community that shares my journey that could be the story of our shared experience…messy. Messy but not alone. Messy but hopeful. Messy but touched by mercy. Messy and experiencing healing that will continue throughout the span of time. I'll close with this thought:  if someone is promising complete fulfillment and peace; ideal marriages and children; if someone is saying "just do the following and you'll have the abundant life that Jesus promised" as if the Word of God was some sort of secret key to giving US all we ever wanted in this life; if those things are happening to you, run the other way! Life isn't that simple…life isn't that predictable…life isn't that mechanistic. If it was, I think Jesus wouldn't have wasted his time on earth hanging out with people whose lives were complete messes. He would have come to earth when He could have gone on TV and radio and pushed a simple product that gave a quick and painless way to experience all the life that we've ever wanted to experience. Wouldn't you think that God loves us enough to give us a formula if one existed?

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