Bri Johns – Student Pastor, Director of Student Programming
I thought I had landed the job of my dreams as Producer for the Just Plain Mark and Zippy show on Radio Disney while in college. Nationally syndicated radio, ABC Radio Networks – I had “arrived.” I applied through a newspaper listing (take that, Internet!) and was chosen over a thousand applicants.
My job consisted of keeping time, breaking for music and commercials, answering calls, prepping celebrity guests, coming up with games and show bits… It was a lot of fun. One term from my radio career that has always stuck with me no matter where I’ve gone is something called a Stop Set.
A Stop Set is a mandatory interruption to a radio program to cut to commercials. At my job, if we missed our Stop Set window we were in big trouble – thousands of dollars were lost, sponsors were irate, people were often fired or written up. Our show depended on these breaks because the commercials financially supported our network. But nobody likes or wants a Stop Set. The talent doesn’t like a Stop Set. The board op doesn’t like a Stop Set. The producer doesn’t like a Stop Set. You, the listener, don’t like a Stop Set because it takes away from your favorite song or that funny bit the djs were doing about pranking someone’s grandma. Wouldn’t radio be better if it was all commercial-free? Please don’t try to convince me that KLOVE and Air1 are “commercial free.” I turned down a job there because I couldn’t get excited about running their regular pledge drives (ahem, commercials).
I have discovered that life has Stop Sets. Just when I think I’ve got plans and purpose for my day, wham!, something collides and interrupts my “regularly scheduled program” – a tragedy, a circumstance, an obstacle, a frustration. Stop Sets make me so unbelievably aware of the fact that I have zero control over what happens to me in my life.
On Friday, we learned that Paris and other parts of the world were bombed and terrorized.
Last month my sister-in-law lost her 8-month-old baby girl to cardiac arrest.
Are we deceiving ourselves with how much we think we can control in our lives? Are we aware that interruptions and tragedies are inevitable? Are we living for the right things?
James 4:13-15 says,
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
I realize this passage of Scripture lacks an immense amount of comfort for the hurting, but what it does offer us is a wake-up call. God wants to shake us. What we see and plan are not always the way things are going to go. Life has interruptions, some are easy to navigate, and some are life shattering. Ask someone who has experienced a jolting Stop Set and they will tell you about the profound value of a moment, a word, an experience that is here now and gone tomorrow.
In this very moment, your heart is beating. Lay your hand down and feel it. At this very second, someone cares about you. In this instant, you have purpose. All we have is now.
Friend, no calendar or to-do list will ever prepare you for life’s Stop Sets, but God has gifted you with time, health, relationships, adventures… just for today. Let’s savor these moments and bring Him glory. Let’s focus on what matters.
May you take a deep breath right now and go and live with all that you’ve got.