Toward the beginning of the Disney movie Frozen, an unconscious Anna is rushed to Grand Pabbie the Troll King after being accidentally struck in the head by her sister Elsa’s cryokinetic powers. After his initial inspection, the Troll King says to the King and Queen,
“You are lucky it wasn’t her heart. The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.”
As soon as he said that, I immediately thought to myself, “Someone’s gonna get zapped in the heart.” Sure enough, fifty-seven minutes later someone got it right to the heart.
Now as much as I’d like to attribute this keen foresight to my uber-prophetic abilities concerning all things cinematic, that is not the case. I simply utilized a dramatic principle called “Chekhov’s Gun.”
This principle basically states that every part of a story must be absolutely necessary and irreplaceable. Everything that can be eliminated from a story should be. As Anton Chekhov said, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
I knew someone was getting zapped in the heart because if that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have wasted precious time writing that line into the story, recording the audio, and animating that scene into the movie.
Chekhov’s Gun is an important tool that is used by authors around the world to more effectively communicate their stories. A storyteller wouldn’t include something (or someone) in his narrative if it weren’t absolutely necessary to the plot.
And God is the greatest Storyteller of ‘em all. He is the Originator of Life, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Creator of the Universe and Existence itself, and the story He is telling is that of our salvation. And in this divine narrative that He has been declaring for thousands upon thousands of years, He included you. He wrote you in, with all of your passions and talents and qualities and quirks. He considered your role irreplaceable, and determined that no other person on the entire planet could play your part better than you.
It’s no mistake that you’re here. How on earth could it be? Of all the different time periods in human history, God destined you to live now. He created you to be who you are. And He planned for you to do things that only you can do.
Now’s your time to shine. A heavenly crowd is waiting on the edge of their seats. The curtains are about to open. So get with the Director, learn the part you were born to play, take the stage, and do what you were created to do. Change the world.
[ Your turn: There are plenty of other examples of Chekhov’s Gun. Name a few of your favorites… oh, and NO SPOILER ALERTS.” ]