Rewriting our future

At 70, Paul Simon is creating some worthy late-period work.

My favorite song on Paul Simon’s most recent album, So Beautiful or So What, is called “Rewrite.” With humor, the song’s narrator, a Vietnam vet looking back on his hardscrabble life, imagines changing those parts that didn’t work out as planned—as if his life were a Hollywood movie script. He sings:

I’ll eliminate the pages
Where the father has a breakdown
And he has to leave the family
But he really meant no harm
Gonna substitute a car chase
And a race across the rooftops
Where the father saves the children
And he holds them in his arms

Of course he can’t rewrite his history, but the song gives the impression that he can change his present and future—with the help of an unexpected Presence.

But I say
Help me, help me
Help me, help me
Thank you!
I’d no idea
That you were there
When I said help me, help me
Help me, help me
Thank you
For listening to my prayer

As far as we know, Paul Simon didn’t undergo a religious conversion. But religious—and even Christian-sounding—themes dominate the album. Paul McCartney noticed. After meeting Simon backstage after a concert last year, McCartney said, “I thought you were Jewish!” It’s clear from the record that Simon has embraced faith in God.

The song does get at something I preached about on Sunday. I said that resurrection reminds us that God isn’t finished with us yet—and won’t be until the other side of resurrection. It’s not up to us to bring heaven down to earth or to make our lives on earth into some kind of heavenly bliss. That’s God’s job, and he’s got that under control. In the meantime, we can afford to wait on God and be patient—with ourselves, with others, and with God.

We don’t get a rewrite or a do-over in life, but we can be confident that, as we trust in Christ, God is rewriting our future. And one day—at the end of history as we know it—we’ll become everything we’re supposed to be.

Here’s a YouTube video of the song…

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