April 22, 2009


“People often ask me how Lost is going to end.  I usually tell them to ask Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who run that series.  But I always wonder, do they really want to know?  And what if I did tell them?  They might have an aha moment, but without context.  Especially since the final episode is a year away.  That is to say, the experience – the setup for a joke’s punch line, the buildup to a magic trick’s big flourish – is as much of a thrill as the result.  There’s discovery to be made and wonder to be had on the journey that not only enrich the ending but in many ways define it.”


J.J. Abrams – Creator of the TV Series Alias, Lost, and Fringe; the director of MI3, Cloverfield, and the upcoming Star Trek prequel – from a recent article in WIRED Magazine


What does this generation have against “Mystery”?  The warning in red caps “SPOILER ALERT” appears in almost every article I read these days, especially if it concerns an upcoming book or film.   Leaked screenplays, stolen drafts, and pirated videos are almost as commonplace as influenza, and twice as nauseating.  Whatever happened to the “discovery of the journey…” as Abrams alludes?


I love Abrams’s work and creative philosophy, which he describes in my favorite TED video entitled “The Mystery Box”:



Now as much as I enjoy ranting about the Gen-Spoilers, I’m also a card-carrying Spoileraholic when it comes to God’s plan.  What’s the next step?  Where’s the money coming from?  Will my kid get good enough grades?  Am I going to be able to take that vacation?  Did my 401k drop today?  Will Ben Laden attack next month?  Yada, yada, yada, la tee la tee da.


I know God loves me but sometimes I picture His eyes rolling and Him saying, “Where’s the love, boy?  Where’s the trust?.”  Thanks, J.J. for the “spiritual” insight; I’ll try harder to enjoy the “…wonder to be had on the journey” that will not only enrich my “ending” but also, in many ways, define it.




The Call to Highly Improbable and Infinite Possibilities

July 15, 2008


At the call, Levi leaves all that he has – but not because he thinks that he might be doing something worth while, but simply for the sake of the call.  Otherwise he cannot follow in the steps of Jesus.  This act on Levi’s part has not the slightest value in itself; it is quite devoid of significance and unworthy of consideration.  The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead.  He is called out, and has to forsake his old life in order that he may “exist” in the strictest sense of the word.  The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered.  The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calculable (it is, in fact quite incalculable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calculable), out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality)….Beside Jesus nothing has any significance.  He alone matters.


Os Guinness

Entrepreneurs of Life


“Will we ever go back?”  Lucy asked.

“I should think so; but it will probably happen when you’re not looking for it.”


Lucy and the Professor in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


What happens when you combine the highly improbable (Black Swan) with infinite possibilities (The Mystery Box)?  Well if you believe there is no God, you experience the perpetual perception of chaos with the sense that your feet are firmly planted in mid-air.  If on the other hand you believe in God (and his Son) you can experience what Levi (Matthew) did when Jesus looked at him and said, “Follow me.”  In other words, you hear His call. 


What can appear as an existence of continual uncertainty is, to the Christian, a world of Adventure with incalculable and infinite possibilities.  As those who believe, all we have to do is prepare…prepare, and listen.


We can help our young men to be ready for His call; we can encourage them to embrace a future with highly improbable and infinite possibilities.  We can teach them the Heavenly Hat Trick.


The Mystery Box

May 11, 2008


This week I watched a video of  J.J. Abrams (director of Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible III, and the upcoming Star Trek prequel) delivering a great talk from the 2007 TED Conference.  He titled his talk “The Mystery Box”.   The talk is 20 minutes, but well worth the time to view (caveat – he curses a few times)

Abrams describes his love for mystery – which is evident in everything he produces.  He also discusses his love for his grandfather, who cultivated his curiosity and love for story.  On one outing, Abram’s grandfather took him to a hole-in-the-wall magic shop in Chicagor where Abrams purchased a sealed package entitled “$50 of Magic for $15”.  






Abram’s keeps the still unopened box on his shelf as a reminder of 2 things:


His love for his grandfather

The hope of unlimited possibilities


Abrams also describes how often mystery hides itself in movies like Jaws and Die Hard.  The real story of Jaws is not a shark – it’s about a guy finding his way in a new community and culture.  Die Hard is not about crazy action (however cool the action is), it’s about a divorced policeman trying to reunite with his wife.  


Abrams isn’t alone in his love for mystery; God permeates his Story with mystery every day for every individual.  But how often do we trust him for the contents of our “Box”?   I have determined that if I embrace the mystery and trust Him for what only he can do – namely “unlimited possibilities” (as Abram describes it) – then each day can become an Adventure. 


The catch is… the box may hold a porcupine or even a live grenade, rather than an all expense ticket to Fantasyland.  We (as Abrams also states) often don’t know what the Story is really about.  I can’t be sure of the contents in my box, pleasant or non, but I do know Who created the package and my Story.  Based on Who He is and what He’s already done, that should be enough.


So here’s a suggestion – cultivate a love for mystery, for yourself and your children.  How about this for starters – order a small leather bound bible from Amazon and have it shipped to your house.  Amazon allows you to include a personal note in the package, so write something similar to this:


Even though mystery of this box is over, trust the Author of  the book inside this box for His next mystery.


When the package arrives, draw a large question mark on the outside and place the box in full view.  Tell your kids the box belongs to them, but ask them to commit never to open the box as a reminder of God’s mystery and infinite possibilities.  If they nag you to the point you feel you are being nibbled to death by a duck – then let them open the box and read the note.  Either way, lesson learned. 


The mental image of the above picture provides a constant reminder for me to trust Him, and when I trust – I get excited about unlimited possibilities.