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What Do You Want?

Starting from the beginning,

Peter told them the whole story.

Acts 11:4

A group of actors on a stage somewhere in Italy bickers with their director about the ridiculous costumes they are expected to wear. Rehearsal is already tense when a family of six wanders into the theater. Annoyed by this unusual interruption, the director barks at the father, “Who are you? What do you want?”

The family is lost—not geographically, but spiritually and emotionally. They each have a different interpretation of past events, which has left each member feeling either confused, hurt, guilty, angry, or abandoned. What they want is the truth about their lives and direction for their future. They are six characters in search of an author who can write the end of their story.

When the play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, premiered in Rome in 1921, it incited a riot. Theatergoers did not appreciate the characters’ claim that they were more real than the actors on stage who wanted to play them. The Italian playwright, Luigi Pirandello, had triggered a defensive response in his audience by forcing them to examine their own identities.

Who are you? What do you want?

These can be difficult questions to answer, especially when we don masks to appear like the people we wish we were. We are parents who wish we had perfect children. We are sons and daughters who carry secrets. We are employees who yearn to climb the corporate ladder. We are spouses who long for something more. We play many roles and carry a lot of baggage. As Shakespeare said in his play, As You Like It:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players.

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts.

Playing many parts can mess with our understanding of our own identity. What do we want? What is our purpose? Where are we going? Who are we?

Truth be told, we are who God says we are, and we’re going where he says we’re going. He’s written our story in loving detail and knows how every act will play out.

This is just my opinion, but I think an appropriate title for our life’s performance would be: We are the Children of God. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). We do not have to don masks and play many parts. God wants us to be only the men and women he created us to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.

I’ve worked with youth and young adults for a good part of my life, and I can tell you that most of them struggle with their identity: who they are in relation to their family, their friends, and the world. They want to belong to something great, do something great, or obtain something great, and society tells them these are all noble quests. But God tells us something different.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). This scripture passage reads like the opening text of a playbill. It clearly defines who we are so there is no misunderstanding about our purpose. Our greatness is tied up in God’s story with a big, red bow.

The next time you feel lost, lonely, or off script, throw away everything that hinders you and run with perseverance the race marked out for you. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). There is only one role for each of us to play and only one script we need to learn.

Pirandello may have won the Nobel Prize for literature, but God created Pirandello. If you are a character in search of an author, turn to the master playwright. He has given you a name and a purpose. He knows your entrances and exits. He’s written His story with you in mind.

THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND is God Is In This Story by Katy Nichole & Big Daddy

Lyrics: God is in this story. God is in the details. Even in the broken parts, He holds my heart, He never fails.”

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