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Bishop T.D. Jakes cautions us on what we miss when we settle for predictable outcomes
Men are notorious for doing it. Women, I suspect, are just as guilty of indulging this secret pleasure as their men. You sit in your favorite armchair or that comfort-worn spot on your couch. A cozy blanket drapes your lap, electric-blue shadows flicker in the dimly lit room. In the palm of your hand rests the key to dozens of faraway portals.
Channel-surfing. We all do it. It affords us a myriad of changing possibilities, all available with the flick of a button. And as we land for a few brief seconds on each station, notice how quickly we identify and assess the images before us. You can spot a tearjerker at ten paces; it’s the same with an old black-and-white sitcom or a scary movie.
The main reason we are able to process each channel’s offering so quickly is because we have watched enough television to know what to expect. If it’s a love story, then we infer the conflicts keeping the young couple from complete bliss. If it’s an infomercial, then we imagine the “real life” testimonials that preceded our viewing. Each genre — comedy, romance, action/adventure, soap opera, or drama — carries with it a set of expectations.
If the shows are poorly done, then you’ve seen them all if you’ve seen one. However, the shows we linger over tend to be the ones that give us some surprises along with some fulfilled expectations. Yes, this is a celebrity talk show, but it features extraordinarily candid interviews with its all-star guests. Yes, the detective did catch the criminal, but the criminal turns out to be his brother, not the ex-con we expected. Good stories engage us by being familiar enough for us to recognize but surprising enough to be unpredictable.
Too often, I’m afraid, [people] think they’ve identified their life story’s genre and feel compelled to live it out without questioning the areas they could change. They get stuck in a tragic mode, an ironic attitude, or a comic relief frame of reference that take nothing in their lives seriously.
Consider this for a moment: What kind of show would your life be if it were on television? Melodrama or game show? The evening news or Entertainment Tonight? A wacky sitcom or a prairie heart-warmer? What do you expect to happen in your future? Have you already decided you know how the story ends?
What kinds of things do you allow yourself to hope for? Do you keep your hopes safe and predictable, like a familiar sitcom’s ending, or do you dare believe that the impossible can happen? I believe [everyone] must harbor at least one impossible dream, an area [he or] she feels led to pursue despite the odds. It may be with [your] job, or with your broken marriage, with [your] estranged children or with [your] health, but I believe God wants us to expect the unexpected from Him. Too often, many people write off the end of