Understanding The Gun On The Table
There is a principle in theatre that says if you put a gun on a table in the first scene it had better be used by the last scene. There are needful reasons for this. You are trying to carry your audience along a particular storyline and pointless details will confuse and distract them. Additionally, you only have a limited amount of time and space. You don’t want to waste a minute of the two hours on a pointless detail, and you don’t want to waste your prop budget or stage space with something that serves no purpose.
The point has everything to do with the audience. You want them to feel something. You want them compelled or horrified or overjoyed. What you don’t want is them scratching their heads, wondering why something was done or what a particular scene had to do with anything. That frustrates audiences and drives critics mad. It will mean bad reviews for sure. Everything needs to move the story along and to wrap up nicely in the end so that the targeted emotion has been created in the audience.
Now think about this. We have access to this kind of entertainment like never before in history. Every day people are watching finely crafted shows that achieve some goal. People are daily carried by stories that give them reasons for the various details displayed throughout and which are being resolved in satisfying ways.
While these shows or books or plays are fun to watch, they don’t help us deal with our true situation.
What is the true situation of people? We all are participants in the greatest story ever told. This world truly is a stage, with a hero, villains, and all kinds of plot twists. This story is God’s story. It is His-tory. The goal of this whole story is to tell of the glory and grace of God to every creature, both above and below.
Here is the problem. We are all still in the middle acts of the play. There is so much more yet to come after our death. This means there are details that haven’t been explained yet. All of us have a “gun on the table.” Things happened in our lives that were stunning in the way they brought pain or changed the course of life. But what do they mean? Why did they happen? Why at that particular moment? How could they possibly display the glory and grace of God?
For many, the frustration is unbearable. They want explanations and they want them now. But this story is not done. It is a massive story that spans millennia, continents, and even material/spirit dimensions. Why? Because God is a massive God and His glory is more than your little brain will ever be able to grasp. People often talk about the satisfaction in serving something bigger than themselves. Well, this is as big as it gets. Yet, because we are so used to having things wrapped up for us in two hours, this is bigger than many actually want. However, anything less will stifle your soul. You were created for this kind of “bigness.”
At this point in the play, you are given promises and overarching explanations. You are promised that this is all working together for good (Rom. 8:28), that God is intending good in the evil that happens (Gen. 50:20), that God is in control down to the smallest of details (Matt. 10:29), that the various trials are being used to grow you in a host of ways (Jam. 1:2; Heb. 12:10-11), and ultimately that this will result in victory and your unending rejoicing (The book of Revelation).
The only question is, will you trust Him? Right now, will you trust Him? The gun is already on the table. It has shocked you and terrified you. It has left you with questions. It has hurt you and caused many problems. But will you stay for the final act? Or will you storm the stage and try to use the gun on the playwright? Or maybe you will try to ignore the play and attempt a finger puppet production for those in the seats around you. Whatever the case, any option you attempt on your own will cause you to miss glory, for that is what is coming and it will be the greatest plot twist ever known. I invite you to move to the edge of your seat and watch with humble, worshipful amazement.