“Life,” as a popular saying goes, “is not a dress rehearsal. Live it to the fullest.” What a setup for a loss of heart. No one gets all he desires; no one even comes close. If this is it, we are lost. But what if life is a dress rehearsal? What if the real production is about to begin? That is precisely what Jesus says; he tells us that we are being shaped, prepared, groomed for a part in the grand drama that is coming. In The Call, Os Guinness writes about a delightful story told by Artie Shaw, a famous clarinetist during the big band era:
Maybe twice in my life I reached what I wanted to. Once we were playing “These Foolish Things” and at the end the band stops and I play a little cadenza. That cadenza—no one can do it better. Let’s say it’s five bars. That’s a very good thing to have done in a lifetime. An artist should be judged by his best, just as an athlete. Pick out my one or two best things and say, “That’s what we did: all the rest was rehearsal.”
All the rest was rehearsal—not for just a few shining moments, but for an eternity of joy. Realizing this is immensely freeing. How many of your plans take an unending future into account? “Let’s see, I’m going to be alive forevermore, so ... if I don’t get this done now, I’ll get to it later.” This is so important, for no human life reaches its potential here.
I was talking with a playwright several years ago. His career was not panning out the way he deeply wanted it to, and he was becoming rather depressed. It wasn’t a matter of being unqualified; he was, and is, a very gifted writer. But few playwrights achieve anything like success. Life wasn’t inviting him to be who he was—yet. He had never once considered that he would be a great writer in the coming kingdom, and that he was merely in training now. His day was yet to come. Understanding that put his life in an entirely new light.