ACTING ON GOd's Leading
The Play is the Thing
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
I used to have a recurring dream growing up that I was on stage in a play and I didn’t know one single line. Naturally, that was only a dream. But it would wake me up feeling insecure nonetheless. I would laugh it off later, proclaiming, that’s right; All the world is a stage…and I don’t know my lines!
Then last year I had the opportunity of acting in my church’s Christmas production, written in-house. It started sometime in late September or early October with an audition.
Now, I hadn’t acted since probably 1996 or 1997 when I played an 8-month-pregnant aunt in a Regent University student one-act play festival, and that experience certainly wasn’t my best work. So when I heard that my church was looking for actors for a Christmas play, I kind of shrugged that notion off.
But at around 3 p.m. on the final day of the auditions, the church play kept coming to mind. I thought, What if I did audition? Why not me? I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should at least go, so after a really trying day at work, I drove over to the church.
I was initially kind of intimidated while I waited my turn in the long, narrow corridor. But I figured I had had such an awful day, this couldn’t possibly get any worse. I picked up the sheet for a character named Lisa, a scroogy postal worker who is ranting about Christmas. Good, a meaty character, I thought. I read through my lines a couple of times and hoped that I would get the gist of it by the time I got called in.
When my turn came, I nervously walked in to a panel of about five people, some of whom I knew from the choir. My first rendition of Lisa was completely horrible. Fortunately, one of the judges gave me direction, which helped my second try to go much better.
I might have been in that room for ten minutes max. I recall the lady before me being in her audition for almost thirty minutes. The odds weren’t looking good. I smiled politely and left, feeling unsure of my performance. Oh, well, at least I tried. I did what I felt like God was telling me to do.
Two days later, I got a phone call informing me that I had the part of Lisa and to please call back. My first reaction was utter shock, followed by a huge laugh. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
Thus, began a three-month process of getting to know my character, working with the other actor in my scenes, and learning lines.
I would like to say that all my practice sessions were a tremendous success and that I felt great every time I got into Lisa’s role. But that just wasn’t true. For some reason, I wasn’t getting it. The lines and blocking weren’t natural for me, I kept forgetting what I was supposed to say and do, and my confidence was waning. I wondered how I ever got picked for this part in the first place. The only things that kept me going during those panicky moments were the fact that I knew I was supposed to be in this play and the fact that I couldn’t back out on everyone.
I told few of my friends that I was a lead role in the church play because I wasn’t sure I could do the part justice. At that point, I was glad that there were only two performances and both on the same day, just in case I failed miserably.
When the performance day finally arrived, I sensed God’s assurance that everything was going to work out. And that feeling of peace and excitement and confidence came only hours before show time. But then I know that God often comes through at the eleventh hour. The rest of it is walking by faith, as the Bible says.
And you know the truly amazing thing about co-starring in that play? It wasn’t delivering my lines well. It wasn’t having an audience to play to. It wasn’t working with a talented cast. It was being pulled aside after one of the performances by a single woman in the audience who, through desperate tears, said to me, “That’s me. I am Lisa. I have been cold-hearted and angry. Would you pray with me?”
I was astonished at her vulnerability. I suddenly realized that the play wasn’t about me and how great an actress I was. It never was about me. It was about God and about how great He was and is. This moment was all about what He wanted to do.
I was humbled by the fact that God would send one person, me, to touch just one life in a very special way. If Jesus cared enough to leave the 99 sheep to find that one lost one, then obviously God cared enough to wade through the hundreds in that play audience to touch the heart of just one woman with His love.
The prayer I prayed with that woman wasn’t eloquent. It was actually a bit awkward. But that didn’t matter because God was in it. I don’t know exactly what impact that prayer made, but I do know that God honors obedience.
You never know how God can use you when you are willing to heed His voice. His answer might come in a play audition. It might come in baking a meal for a sick friend. It might mean taking that course at college. It might be befriending the unpopular kid at school. But whatever that still, small Voice is asking you to do this Christmas season, do it knowing that God is wooing someone, maybe just one person, back to Him.
And that, dear friend, is worth everything.
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