Real Stuff My Dad Says 73: In Your Story, Which Scene Are You Responsible For?

Real Stuff My Dad Says 73: In Your Story, Which Scene Are You Responsible For? March 5, 2015


My dad and I LOVE sports and movies. One flick that combines these two (to a degree) is Frequency with Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid. In the movie, Quaid plays Caviezel’s firefighter dad in 1969 Queens, New York. An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father’s life, but then must fix the consequences.

One aspect that the movie establishes in its first act is a family that starts out looking picture perfect: great neighborhood, great friends, happy marriage, great kid. Thirty years later, though, the father died, the mother is lonely, the son can’t keep a relationship and battles alcoholism.

How can a family that starts out so promising turn out so rotten?

Now, as the movie progresses, (SPOILER ALERT) each of the characters are saved, redeemed and “live happily ever after”. But, if art reflects life, then the principle of individuals and families starting out strong, but potentially getting derailed happens all around us every day.

So, how do we right the ship when things go awry?

As my dad says, life goes on for each of us. Then we encounter a change, or speed bump, or hurdle, or whatever you want to call it that creates a new environment and completely changes life as we know it for our entire family. Sometimes, this hurdle is followed by repair through repentance and the family is able to put things back together. Sometimes miraculous healing takes place. Sometimes time simply heals wounds. But sometimes, everything just collapses and the family falls apart.

For instance, my dad recently got to talk with a man who served in the Navy in the 1960’s. He would sometimes ship off for 12-18 months at a time, leaving his young wife at home to hold up the fort and tend to their family. As he walked off his ship after one such tour, he was greeted by his wife – who happened to be nine months pregnant. Quite a surprise for a guy who had been away for over a year.

Needless to say, this was an incredible “speed bump” for the family, resulting in a divorce and break in relationship with his kids as well. Nearly 40 years went by before a relational bridge began construction between him and his son. The two of them have had a strong relationship for 20 years since that awkward conversation that marked the end of a 38-year separation, but the reality is that they did loose those 38 years.

Now, cut to a different scene with my dad getting to know this same man. He’s a great guy – active in his community, servant-hearted with a passion for helping at-risk youths, church-going, God-fearing, generous to everyone he meets.

Yet, sadly, his children never knew that side of their dad until after he was retired and most of his work was revealed in commemorative plaques, not day-to-day interactions.

So, if our lives were divided up like movies, and split into introductions, conflicts, climaxes, and resolutions, then which scenes are we held responsible for?

An example of this can be found in First and Second Samuel in the life of King David. Most of us are familiar with David’s feats and foibles: defeating Goliath with a single stone, defeating the neighboring armies in the name of God, rising to the throne with the heart of God as his guiding force… but then there’s Bathsheeba, killing Uriah, earning the “Israel’s Worst Dad” award.

Which of these scenes is David held responsible for?

According to my dad, we are responsible for the place we are at RIGHT NOW.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t be responsible for what we do in the future. We will. But right now, we are responsible for preparing things – setting the stage, if you will – for our future.

Likewise, we do hold responsibility for our past, in that we need to repent for the wrongs that we have done in order to make our present and futures right. Even if the event happened a long time ago, and it seems like the matter is settled (divorce is finalized, you’ve moved on to a different job, etc.), repentance – done properly – always sets the stage for a better present and future.

But that repentance, as well as that preparation, needs to happen in the here and now. That’s why the scene of your life that you are in right now is the scene you are most responsible for. What you do today will determine where you end up tomorrow and what you are either burdened by or liberated from in regards to your past.

Getting back to the former Navyman my dad is friends with, despite what happened in the past, he seized his present opportunity to encourage his son, apologize for the years they had lost and properly engage so that they would have a future together as family.

Yet, sometimes we can’t make all things right with everyone we’ve done wrong, nor can we always rebuild relationships. Still, we need to do what we can with what we have when we have it. Even great heroes like David were actually men just like you and me. But, in their moments of greatness, they chose to step forward and seize the present moment in a righteous way.

Now, too often, people get so consumed with their legacy that they ignore or neglect the people, places and things that are around and can influence today. Or, they are so burdened by their past that they are paralyzed and unable to build a successful future. Then there’s the YOLO (You Only Live Once) people who are solely concerned with the here and now, with complete disregard of what they have done before or what they are setting themselves up for in the future.

How about this for an alternative: YOLO! You only live once… so do it right! Seize the moment that you have right now to make the past right by repentance, make the right decision now in order to set the stage for a bright future, encourage those around you today in order to help them make the right decisions in their own lives.

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