There’s an old sermon that, no doubt, has been preached by hundreds of preachers. It asks the question, “What have you done with your dash?” Of course, the preacher is referring to the dash that will be on your tombstone, the time separating your birth date from your death date.
Today, I’d like us to consider our arc instead of our dash. There are six main arcs in storytelling, as identified by an A.I. program. These six arcs were derived from the analysis of nearly 2,000 works of fiction and what happened to the protagonist.
The arcs are.
1. Rags to Riches (rise)
2. Riches to Rags (fall)
3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)
4. Icarus (rise then fall)
5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)
6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)
These six story arcs for fiction exist because they have been distilled from the actual lives of people. We may be fully committed to Jesus and still live an Icarus life. We may have great successes early in our lives and then lose it all during the later years, before we leave this Earth. That does not mean we failed God.
On the other hand, if our Icarus life is a moral one where we lived for Jesus early in our lives but then became complacent or bitter in our later years, then we need to switch stories. We need to jump from our arc to the Man in a Hole or Cinderella arc. With the help of Jesus, we can do that! And, that’s my point for this devotional. We are not “locked in” to a disastrous life of immoral addiction. And, yes, I’m addressing Christians.
We were all conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). However, a severe problem Christians have is that many have held onto “pet” sins after they were born again. If, as Christians, we keep hidden sins, if we allow addictions to remain in us, if we long for the world, then we are destined to have a bad ending to our story. Sin is death, and it kills whatever it enters.
I’m not writing about sins that are easily purged. I’m writing about sins that we’ve claimed 1 John 1:9 hundreds of times yet, still, those sins keep coming back.
Now here’s the Good News!
If we change, Jesus will change the ending of our story. If we pray a plea like Psalms 51:10 (ESV), “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” or 1 John 1:9 (ESV), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And, we apply self-control and disciple to our lives our Lord will change us, and we will have victory over those sins.
We all want a good ending to our story, and no one wants that more than Jesus. Seek Him. Ask Him. Obey Him. And your arc will be beautiful.