“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133
While I was in college, I auditioned to sing at The 1982 World’s Fair. I made the cut and sang in a group called PowerSource for six months. I know. Hard to believe.
Musical parts were sent ahead of time for us to learn, and then we gathered two weeks before the start of The 1982 World’s Fair to put it all together. It was a pressure packed two weeks as we all tried to get to know each other, blend our voices, and become a group. Added to that, we had to learn our acting parts.
We were to perform a live staged musical. We would perform on one of two teams and perform about four or five times each day for six months once it all began.
As the time approached for the fair to launch, I had a recurring nightmare. In my nightmare, I stood at the door of the stage ready to run out to begin the performance. My mother appeared beside me and asked, “Are you going to get dressed or not?” I quickly looked at myself, and I was not wearing any pants. I was about to run on stage—at least in my nightmare—in my underwear. The dream recurred several times as the start date for the fair approached.
Loss is like that; but, it’s worse.
Losing a loved one is like hearing, “Lights, camera, action,” and you find yourself standing on a stage to play a part. Forgetting your pants is the least of your worries. You don’t even know your lines. A spotlight blinds your eyes. You’ve not rehearsed for this new role. You’ve not even been told about the new role. The audience goes silent. You feel as if all eyes are on you. Everyone is awaiting your performance, your response. The silence is awkward. As you look around this stage you realize the rest of the cast has stepped backstage. There are no supporting actors. It’s a soliloquy. A monologue. A lone performance. No teleprompter.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
Previous to that fateful moment, you were on another stage. You were totally comfortable with your role. You knew your lines. Memorized. You knew where you were to stand for your role or even roles. Second nature. Then, in an instant, you are thrust onto another stage. You don’t know the lines. You don’t know where you’re supposed to stand. A fish out of water.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
When you face an abrupt step onto an unwanted stage, that’s when faith is the victory. Your response to difficulty is paramount. You have to doggedly force yourself out of the storyline of your new role. You have to force your mind out of the previous storyline. Everything has changed. You have to force your eyes of faith onto a grander storyline. You have to rise above the micro-story and press into the macro-story. You know those lines of faith. You’ve rehearsed that script throughout your life over the course of days, weeks, months, and years. The Bible has been your guide, and it will now be your guide on this unwanted stage.
You bask in the spotlight of the gospel. You are comforted by the invisible Spirit guiding you. When you face an abrupt step onto an unwanted stage, you have to press up under the shadow of his wings. You need God to steady your steps, keep you far from iniquity, and walk with you through the deep waters and flames of an unwanted stage.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2