Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Open Hand

Phil Vischer created VeggieTales -- and then lost the company when it went bankrupt. In an interview I just read, he said, "Rather than seeking God and asking Him, 'How do you want me to move forward?' I did some spiritual math and said, 'OK, how could I have more impact? By just making my films or by building the next Disney?'"

I don't think that way. I'm too much of a wimp to actually dream of something so bold as to build the next Disney. I've actually always admired people who dream boldly like that and wondered if something was wrong with me to not have more ambition. But Vischer's story rings true to me. He says,

"We're drinking a cocktail that's a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel . . . Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It's the Oprah god. . . I realized I'm not supposed to be pursuing impact, I'm supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have."

I'm not supposed to be pursuing impact. For someone who writes dramas -- and drama is supposed to be all about impact -- those are tough words. But I know they're true. Randy, on our worship-planning team at Hope in NJ, was the one who always cautioned us when we were toeing the line with merely manipulating the congregation's emotions. That's not worship -- and it's not genuine impact.

So, what do we do? As Vischer says, we pursue God. The impact is up to him. When I'm pursuing God when I write dramas, that means some sketches will move the congregation powerfully . . . some will touch a handful of people and leave the rest dry . . . some may fall flat but change the life of the actor portraying it . . . and some may be just about business God has to do with me. But they will always have impact -- the impact God wants it to have, whether that's what I had in mind or not. What I have in mind simply isn't the point.

"There's something wrong in a culture that preaches nothing is more sacred than your dream. I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous. . . the only thing I can't let go of is God. Everything else should be held with an open hand."

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