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I've listened to "Unwritten" by English singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield countless times since its U.S. debut in 2005, but it wasn't until I started thinking about what to post for the new year that I realized how directly the song ties into following God's plan for our lives. It has always made me think about the unpredictability of life, and how much of it I still have to look forward to (I'm in my early 20s, but I consider myself an old soul). After looking at it from a biblical perspective, though, I'll probably never listen to this song the same way again. The first verse is so simple, yet so profound. "I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined / I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned..."
Lamentations 3:22-23 reads, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (NIV). In other words, every day we are unwritten, redefined and refined by God. Our past — what we did last year, last month, last week, and even 5 minutes ago — He's already forgiven. Each day He gives us another chance to get things right, even though we don't deserve second chances. God knows our every move, every decision we'll ever make and every outcome of every situation we'll face because the pen is not in our hand; it's in His, as we see in Ephesians 1:11-12:
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (NIV)
To us, the ending may seem unplanned, but God's got it all figured out.
The next verse of "Unwritten" is even more poignant. "I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines / We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way..." It's human nature for our tries to be outside the lines. We were made in God's image, and we should try to be like Him, but He does not expect us to be perfect. Romans 3:23 reminds us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (NIV). He sees everything about us, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still loves us — and because the pen's in God's hand, He already knows exactly when, where and how we'll make mistakes. This is where the "dirty windows" Natasha mentions in the song's pre-chorus come into play.
"Staring at the blank page before you / Open up the dirty window / Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find..." Every day is a 'blank page,' and we imperfect Christians are the 'dirty windows.' Natasha says we have to "release [our] inhibitions" (i.e., hindrances, dead weight, toxic situations, etc.). In order to reach our full potential, we have to allow ourselves to be opened up and be illuminated by the Son, to be used for God's glory as we learn from our mistakes. We have to choose to live an unwritten life.
As Natasha's chorus tells us:
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
"Unwritten" speaks to how every day is a clean slate. We don't have to wait for the beginning of a new year to start a new beginning. In light of that, starting now, I'm choosing less of me and more of God. As I watch Him continue to write my story, I'll do my best to clean my dirty windows: to actively listen and think before I speak, to judge less and love more, and above all, to open myself up to hear what He has to say. I hope that my 2017 (and yours) will be a chapter worth reading. Happy New Year!