The art of storytelling fascinates me. Most good writers will point to the three- act structure of storytelling as the key to making the story build, draw the reader in, and make it interesting.
The basic three-act structure is this:
ACT 1 – Set –up – exposition. Introduction – get to know everything
ACT 2 – Rising action – plot twists
ACT 3 – Resolution – climax
Good writers have a way of using this structure in innovative ways that doesn’t call attention to the structure itself, but nevertheless the structure has informed their work.
I was recently thinking about this story structure and how our individual life stories unfold. I would submit the structure could be viewed as very much the same.
We are the director, writer and producer of our lives. So, as the creator of our life experience how do we create our story? I would submit we create our story very much like the three act structure of storytelling we might use to write a piece of fiction. Think about it:
ACT 1 – the Set –up. Much of this we may not have had a lot of control over. We were born where we were born, with whatever ethnicity we may have, to parents we have had, and surrounded by whatever environment was present. Much of Act One, in many cases, we have just inherited. Then comes Act Two:
ACT 2 – the Rising action. We begin to make some choices, some good, some bad, but choices just the same. How do we react or deal with the hand we were dealt in act one? How do we label those experiences and therefore how do we make new choices? Do we choose to see life as a positive experience even in the face of adversity, or do we choose to let circumstances defeat us and so we think that life is a negative and fruitless experience? Do we allow God/Spirit to assist us in making the choices we make and, and even greater, how much faith and trust in God do we have as we make those choices?
Act two, in any good story, is filled with plot twists that propel the leading character to make the tough choices. Some choices are easy, but some plot twists can really cause us to examine our choices deeply.
Case in point: I have a friend who is a professional church organist. He has made his living playing in churches on Sunday, director choirs, traveling the world giving concerts and recording some of the most beautiful organ music I have ever heard. He experienced a plot twist that none of would ever wish to experience.
About ten years ago my friend was in a terrible automobile accident that resulted in his loosing his left arm at the shoulder. It seemed that any chance of his resuming his career was lost. Needless to say he had some major decisions to make about his future.
Fortunately for him he always had a profound, deep and positive faith in God and outlook on life. It was that positive outlook, based on choices he had made before, that helped get him through this terrible time. Was he to give up his dream of continuing his career as a concert organist and do something else, or was he to see how his ministry of music could continue to uplift people and serve God?
Through this plot twist of life my friend decided he would learn to play the organ in a new way. With one hand and with the pedals. Could this be done? Through his determination and faith he trusted that it was not only possible, but that his career could thrive and touch people in a new and exciting way. This terrible plot twist and his decisions and choices, as well as his faith in a God in whom all things are possible, created triumph over tragedy. He is perhaps now more successful than he ever was, and his courage and faith have inspired many people who have also faced life changing plot twists.
So, what new choices will you make today about the plot twists in your life? What plot twists, and your choices about them, will propel you to a new place? Perhaps that new place is not one you ever thought you would experience, but as you affirm that the presence of God is always right where you are at every moment, going through with you whatever you may be experiencing, you will begin to see life in a new way. Our reactions to the plot twists of life create what we will experience in act three.
ACT 3 is what we have decided to make it, based on those choices, THOUGHTS, beliefs and positive affirmations we have decided to introduce. It is also important to remember that the enfoldment of our story in these three acts has less to do with our age and much more to do with our decisions and thoughts.
An affirmative thought has infinitely more power than a negative thought. Most people have been too easily living life as it comes along without consciously directing their thinking, their faith and their belief in God based on love and possibility.
The next chapter of your story begins with your next thought. Your next prayer, your next decision. It begins with where you place your faith and trust. It may have taken years to get to where you are now, but always remember that a positive thought is ever more powerful than a negative thought. The introduction of positive thoughts will dissolve a negative thought pattern and create a new paradigm of thinking in your life.
Remember that what thought has done – thought can undo. (Thank you Dr. Ernest Holmes)
Welcome today a major new plot twist in the story of your life by changing your thinking and trusting in a God who loves you unconditionally.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy we read, “Choose life.” That is a choice worth embracing. Choose life. Choose to see God working in your life no matter what plot twists you may be experiencing. Choose life in the face of these plot twists.
The God who asks us to CHOOSE LIFE pours out blessing upon blessing on us, but we need to relax, or be still, and notice the presence of God right where we are.
Plot twists in your life? You bet. But so is God in your life to love you, hold you, bless you and sustain you, this day and always. Choose life. Not because I said so, but because God loves you.
Rev. Jefferson Beeker
(excepted from s sermon delivered January 5, 2014)
We live our lives one thought at a time. Let each of those thoughts really count for something wonderful.
Be prepared to change your thinking and change your life. Please join us each Sunday at 5:30 PM in our Social Hall at First Christian Church, North Hollywood, CA for our Contemporary Celebration and Praise service. Come as you are and enjoy an hour of great music from our wonderful band and singers, inspiring messages and good fellowship. Those things in life that you have been seeking have also been seeking you. Now is a good time to receive them.
Also, join me on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 PM for an hour of guided and silent meditation, reflection, affirmation and prayer. As always, we will share communion together. Everyone is welcome.
First Christian Church, North Hollywood, 4390 Colfax Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604. http://www.fccnh.org
Follow me on Twitter @jeffersonbeeker