Photo courtesy of @keirsten_c


Have you ever watched a classic movie? I’m talking 1960s or earlier, especially a musical? I’m a sucker for old musicals; South Pacific, West Side Story, HMS Pinafore, and, my absolute-hands-down-nothing-else-could-ever-touch-it-favourite: My Fair Lady! If you’ve never seen it, you must. Like, right now; the 1964 version with Audrey Hepburn. For real, I can wait…. Ok, maybe later then. It’s abso-blumin-lutely loverly. Trust me, you’ll understand once you see it. But I digress…

Musicals typically open with a long musical introduction. Various parts of the whole score of the movie are played in medley as the opening credits roll by often accompanied by concept sketches from the film’s designers. If you are watching for the first time, none of it makes sense really, but it pulls you in and makes you really want to get on with the movie. It just hints at what you are about to witness. And what you are about to witness is wonderful. I mean wonder-full. It sweeps you up, wraps itself around you and makes you forget there ever was a prelude. The prelude doesn’t even matter because finally the movie has begun and it is so much better than you imagined when you were trying to make sense of the prelude. 

And that is what I have learned as I have wandered through this life God has given me. It’s just the prelude. It contains just enough of what is to come to make us thirst for it. There is beauty. There is also confusion and darkness. There is an awful lot that just doesn’t really make sense to me now as I try to follow a plot that I’ve never learned. As with many movies, I’ve been told how it ends. But how I get from here to there and what happens to get us there, I can’t even imagine. I’m not sure I want to imagine it because some of it looks pretty scary, sad, stressful, bleak. 

But this is just the prelude. This is how I know there is a story to come. I mean, what are these snippets of songs that leap and fugue and constantly circle back if not proof that there are whole songs yet to be heard? What are these concept sketches of costumes and scenes if not a glimpse of the designer’s vision about to be realized in full view?

Our lives, these years that often fly by but sometimes drag mercilessly along like their very own eternity, are just the prelude. 

Stop for just a moment. You feel it, don’t you? This can’t be all there is. You long for more. You long for crisp-autumn-air-peace, and curled-up-beside-a-roaring-fire-rest, and explosive-giant-showering-fireworks-joy, and lung-drenching freedom, and you know it exists. You just haven’t found it. That’s because it’s not here. It’s not in the prelude. It will come when the screen briefly darkens, the music swells and the story finally begins. 

So why are we stuck watching the prelude when we could just skip the credits and get to the movie? It doesn’t seem fair. Who needs the prelude? Honestly, I don’t have the answer for that except to say this: the director made the prelude too. The director created the prelude for us, perhaps simply to prepare us for the movie, to help us long for it, to promise that it is going to be so good, to help us eagerly anticipate it. I don’t know exactly. But for now, we have the prelude. There is much to be learned from it. Let’s watch it. Let’s soak it up. Let’s learn its lessons in the hope that it will make the film all the more worth watching. 

And, let’s share what we have learned in the prelude. Let’s encourage one another with the encouragement we have each received from the director and designer. I think, for me at least, this is one of my purposes in the prelude. This is why I am writing now. At various times in my life God, our great director and designer, has given me little glimpses. He has opened my eyes, ears and mind just wide enough to let a little of himself in, to help me make sense of some tiny piece of this prelude. As I have shared the lessons I have learned over coffee or at a bible study, others have heard him speak similar words of blessing and insight to them, so I want to share them with you in the hope that it will do the same for you. 

Important caveat! Unlike most movie goers, we have pieces of the script. God has given us the collection of books we call the Bible because he is determined that we understand the prelude and don’t just make up its meaning based on our own interpretation of the music and the sketches. So, if at any time, what I think I have learned contradicts what the Bible teaches, I’m wrong. I missed something. I need to go back over it and always interpret the prelude through the filter of the script. I will try to be careful to share only the insights I have been given that follow the script. If I get it wrong, please don’t cling to my words. Take an iron-fisted grip on what we know is true and never let it go. Some days it will not make sense and some days we will not like what it has to say, but when the story finally begins we will be so thankful we didn’t try to change the script. There isn’t one of us, or even all of us collectively, who could write a story like the one we are going to see when the prelude is finally finished and the story begins.