If We Do Not Grow Weary
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ~ Galatians 6:9
Call it coincidence, but in the first week of the new year, a time that is infamous for vigorously begun and eventually retired resolutions, I've started both voice and piano lessons. Between lessons and practice time, that'll add up to roughly 12 hours of time each week spent sharpening those skills. I'm not starting from scratch on either front, and it's rewarding to already see some measurable progress! I'm hopeful that in a couple of months, I'll have made great strides...if I "do not grow weary."
What does it mean to lose heart? Why is motivation so often elusive?
Well, there's this quality called "discipline." And "diligence." And "perseverance." At the basic level, it's the ability to keep on with the course of action even when the "feels" aren't feeling it. To "for the joy set before us," (see Hebrews chapter 12) endure and push through the pain, soreness, brain overload, discouraging setbacks and mental blocks.
Motivation feeds off satisfaction and enjoyment. These two are sisters and best friends, so where the one is, you will not find the other far away. And while we often set goals to work toward, it is worth investing in our relish of the journey as well as the finish line.
That's why working out to music, and with a friend, helps me not give in to my sore muscles. Why treating each warm up exercise as a little song helps me not tense up from focusing too hard. Why playing a song I already love disguises the tedium of practicing chord progressions.
If it's like that for short-term pursuits, how much more for the long hauls!
Here are some ideas for keeping the mundane energized:
1. Partner up
Companionship is a surefire way to keep a task unboring. Whether unboring means irritating or fun depends on both your attitude and the person/s you are with--but at the very least monotony is held at bay! At best, you will be able to encourage each other and cheer each other on in a healthy, affirming way.
2. Eat soup with a side of chocolate (not that I don't like soup)
Incorporate an old hobby into your project, or combine the activity with another you like. Just be careful to not talk about the combo in the negative way you used to think about the less favorite of the two...or you may find the both of them demoted in your mind.
3. Write with your other hand
Stuck in a rut? Change it up! Dress up to go to the store, or turn kitchen clean up into a musical number. Figure your taxes while listening to a new soundtrack, or bake a foreign dessert to get in the patriotic spirit. Wait--what?!
4. Quit flapping and soar
Stop trying so hard to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit is working in us both to will (desire) and to act to fulfill his good purpose for us. We don't have to come up with our own plan. He's already got the perfect role for each of us. Have you asked the Director for his notes on this scene? Catch the right current and flow with it! Don't confuse being busy with being fruitful.
5. Measure twice, cut once
Some things are meant to fall away into oblivion, weights cast off in favor of more worthy treasures. The yardstick is not what pleases us in the moment, but what is pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His pleasure is the foundation of any lasting success, and we find joy by honoring him in the process as well as the product of our efforts.
Those are some things that help me. What helps you keep going when the road is rough? Please comment below! Meanwhile, I think I'll go practice "Edelweiss" on the piano....
Waiting on my next Mission
I have been praying for direction, and this morning came across this verse:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all! ~ Ezekiel 13:3
A sobering reminder to wait on God and not invent my own map.
Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: you will lie down in torment. ~ Isaiah 50:10-11
Even when I don't have light showing the next step, I can still trust in the name of the Lord! He does have a plan, and I don't want to stray from it.
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. ~ Isaiah 48:17
Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. ~ Isaiah 30:21
When I don't have light, I need to close my eyes and listen for a still, small Voice. Listen for my next mission. Because I choose to accept it.
This is my first post on the fresh face of my blog! I do like the new look. It's also feels more streamlined to have it incorporated into my main website.
Some things, like this one, change by our own choosing. We end chapters in favor of a brighter prospect, and put in the effort necessary to make the transition. Other changes come by the will of another, some for good and some for ill, and we then "recalculate" our route to best get back on track toward our ultimate goal, though perhaps by a different road. Still more change is brought simply by passage of time--this steady ticking of chronological progression that brings us to forks and bridges in our life paths. By one impetus or another, and sometimes combinations of these, change does come.
Change is exhilarating. Change is frustrating. Change is beautifully inevitable. I myself often experience a convoluted reaction, leaving me dancing between a swirl of leaves, their cherished colors fading, and the bare branches of unseen promise.
I learn I must die to live.
Like a hermit crab searching for a new shell because the old no longer fits, or a snake shedding its skin to reveal the new, so I must embrace the vulnerability of leaving behind the past to live Today in the place God has me. I find myself grieving sometimes over a loss, forgetting that "it came to pass", and what is yet in store has its own wonderfulness. It is not wrong to remember, but when the remembering bleeds into a habit of discontent, it is evidence of my focus having turned horribly inward. If the past was hurtful, remember God's grace to move on. If the chapter closing was beautiful, smile because it happened, and trust for more beauty among life's ashes. Because it is there. Oh, it is there!
Do not scorn the unfolding of the fresh rose in favor of fragrant dried petals. Should I not choose to relish the daily discovery of the new gifts God has given? Rejoice in the sure promise of those to come? I want to live in thankfulness for simply being a part of His story.
He is the master of great story, and the end is already foretold. If a chapter ends in suspense or leaves characters (even me!) in a position of difficulty, surely it will be resolved!
We can rest in the knowledge that this next page will draw us ever nearer to the glorious finish line. Will the last chapter leave us hanging? I don't know; but I've heard it on good authority that there is a sequel....
So times change. Circumstances change. We change. And always the old gives way to new, and everything seems different now. Good different? That's partly up to us. Every day there are new choices, and the paths we take lead to the next choices. Don't let what is past keep you from the right choice for Today!
Yes, I am an actress. Yet this is real life. Are these not the roles we "live" for? Complex, heartbreakingly real characters. People who encounter both obstacles and opportunities, sorrow and joy, pain and healing. These show us that there is something, Someone, greater than ourselves or our own personal drama.
I am grateful to be a sketching of His grace.
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us....We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed....Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4)
Making The Connection
Wise words written by my grandfather on June 5th, 2000.
"To hope is to believe in the possibility, however slim, that things will change. It is to believe that given patience and time one can endure whatever may come before one’s situation improves and that things promised or principles held will eventually prevail.
To hope is to trust in the outcome no matter how costly or difficult the way, to hold on to one’s beliefs in spite of all indications to the contrary. Hope is that state of belief that enables all one’s resources to be focused on an outcome deemed impossible by all human odds whether that outcome is fulfilled in one’s lifetime or beyond.
Hope transcends time and events. Hope is the catalyst that triggers energy you did not know you had, to do what you didn’t know you could, in situations you never knew you’d face. Hope is the connecting rod between faith and fulfillment.
Hope is grounded in the unchanging One who validates our faith in his sovereign will. Hope stands between what we believe and the Eternal God in whom we believe to enable us to love even when there is no earthly reason for us to love."
Painful, Confusing, and Inconvenient
The first snow of the year has fallen, and, so far, has stayed. The brilliant whiteness adds to seasonal cheer and travel hazards. Love it or hate it, winter is here!
Cold, yet cozy. Beautiful, yet dangerous. Fun...and annoying. The beauty may even prickle to the touch.
Metaphor for life?
Most of us have picked a favorite season out of the year, if only to have an answer when asked. Each have their pros and cons, and our selfish psyche picks which ones to remember and wishes away the rest. But as there is a "reason for the season" of Christmas (which approaches with astonishing pace!), there is likewise a purpose for each season we encounter in our lives.
We know that seasons change, but we do not always have the time or the inclination to prepare for them. Sometimes the change seems to come without warning....and not all the seasons are welcome. While there may be the occasional Indian summer of unexpected happy adventures, more often it seems that the interruption is of a sinister nature: accidents, sickness, unemployment, heartbreak, or the death of a loved one. What do you do with that?
Perhaps the most troubling question is: WHY? Why did this happen? (or not happen...) Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen now? Why shouldn't I give up now? Why doesn't it just go away? While those questions may have answers, maybe that's the wrong sort of question for us to be asking at first. Maybe the essence of Why is a distraction, to keep us sitting at the base of the hurdle in our way, analyzing the structure and philosophizing about the placement on the track instead of jumping or climbing over to continue the race.
We mean well, of course. If we know Why, then we know what to do about it, right? We would know how to prevent it from happening again, and eventually have a problem-free life. Right?
Wrong: "...in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
I have several friends who were/are involved in debate clubs growing up. Something they have learned is that if you let your opponent frame the questions for you, or fall into a default mode, you lose the argument. All right, fine. So what questions could we be asking instead? Well, here are some that I use for target practice when I'm "trouble shooting." :-)
What is the trouble/s? It is said that identifying the problem is the first step to dealing with it. While not imperative for initial action, understanding the issue is certainly necessary to achieve a long-term resolution of it. And have you noticed that troubles like to travel in company? When I'm feeling overwhelmed, it really helps me to write down a list of all the variables trying to stress me out, so that the nebulous mass doesn't keep churning in the back (or front) or my mind. Then I talk the list over with God.
Whom does this affect? Something I have found is that it helps to shift the focus from myself to others. Obviously this is affecting me personally, but while I might feel alone, I'm usually not. Even seemingly isolated troubles often have ripples into other people's lives. What can I do to ease their pain and better understand their burden?
Who am I fighting against? Regardless of who or what I think caused the problem, I need to recognize who the enemy really is: Satan. The devil will use whatever he can to distract me and trick me into putting my energy into warring against anything else. But although the symptoms vary with each case, it's hard to go wrong with targeting him as the ultimate perpetrator.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:11-12
How has God shown himself strong in the past? I remind myself that God is greater than my trouble/enemy. I read the Bible and find story upon true story of how God has shown his power and grace in strong, effective ways. I search out modern-day testimonies from friends or even strangers that relate to my situation. I review the specific faithfulness and goodness of God in my personal history. When I can't remember certain events well, I try to find someone else who was there that can help me recall it better. It also helps to write down answered prayers in a journal to look back at.
How do I fight? Instead of reacting in fear, doubt, hate, worry, griping, or other such destructive manner, I strive to respond with the opposite. These are some tactics in my arsenal:
How can I glorify God through this? There comes a point when how we respond to hardship contributes to answering the Why. When we submit our lives to the Lord Jesus, God works in our lives to bring good out of even the things that Satan meant to destroy us (Romans 8:28). We can partner in this process by keeping our eyes open for opportunities to give glory to God along the way.
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." ~ John 9:3
As you may have guessed, this is majorly a distillation of what I am learning from my recent life struggles: nursing my sister when she was suffering from a recurring high fever, dealing with a nasty rash on my own skin, resisting depression after the high of a long film shoot, ongoing car trouble, paying unexpected bills, and being there for friends in a hard place. It's been a hard fall.
But God has brought us through as victors, not victims! God has healed us and we experienced a recovery much faster than normal. I've been receiving unexpected gifts and funds that have covered all the expenses, and now have a wonderfully functional vehicle. And despite my many imperfections and inexperience, he has somehow used me to help others through some rough spots at the same time. I am in awe of what he has done—and is still doing!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
....All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 15-18
Yes, life can be very painful, and often confusing. No, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of inconvenient circumstances cropping up from the infamous land of Nowhere with the unnerving speed of Suddenly.
But who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39
I'm (Still) Waiting . . . .
People sometimes tell me how strong I am. But I don't feel strong. Whatever strength is there, it surely isn't mine. I guess that would be scriptural:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25-27
I have been called. Called to live my life in love and joy and peace and patience and faith and kindness and obedience. Called to devote my energies and thoughts and words and actions as a living sacrifice of adoration to the one true God. Called to a steadfast surrender to the astounding Grace that makes it at all possible.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. ~ Psalm 119:35
All well and good to be willing to obey, but what if we are unsure of the path to take? What constitutes obedience in a particular instance? It is said that the devil is in the details. Perhaps, but my God is Lord over both the details and the bigger picture, so I'm in the best of hands.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. ~ Isaiah 48:17, 21
He will teach me, direct me, lead me in the way I should go. But so often I'm like a little kid: "Are we there yet?" and five minutes later "How much LONGer?!!"
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
~ Psalm 5:3
As I was growing up my family would sometimes take an entire summer and visit friends and family all across the States. I grew used to lengthy drives and learned to use the time spent in the van productively. Those who were able might decide to nap some in order to arrive with more energy. Reading, studying, talking with parents and siblings, singing songs, playing travel games, folding origami, tatting, crocheting, solving puzzles—there were countless activities available to occupy us (besides the ever-tempting snack-box). Have I so quickly forgotten how to be content as a passenger?
Humph. But at least on THOSE trips I knew what to expect! Oh, really? What about traffic delays, adverse weather conditions, construction detours—and my still developing sense of time passage itself? Is this really so different? Many of us are still children with respect to interacting with heaven's timetable.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. ~ Psalm 130:5-6
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. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
~ Lamentations 3:22-26
A dear friend reminded me yesterday that I am not the only one having to employ patience here. God is being patient, too. Not just patient with me (which he is, and I am SO thankful!), but everything else going on that makes things take longer than they might otherwise. God is excited for me to glimpse the next adventure, thrilled to take me there and share my delight in what he has so graciously prepared.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
He is infinitely more eager than I, and infinitely more patient. Anticipation is helpful. Impatience and anger over unmet expectations are not. Do we joyfully trust our Father that the good things he has prepared for us will also come in his beautiful time?
I confess that after publishing my last post all about waiting, part of me indulged in the thought that the package I was waiting for (speaking figuratively) would now "magically" appear. Another part of me suspected that there was still much to learn about this fascinating facet of life called "waiting." The former part hoped that the latter part was being unnecessarily pessimistic. I chuckle inside now at my psychological game. Who was I kidding? It is when our own strength runs out that we discover the true strength that comes from depending on God alone.
God enjoys spending time with me—me spending time with him. Yes, he will be with me, holding my hand as I walk through the door when that time comes. I even think I know which door that is, though not fully what lies behind it. It hasn't opened yet, though I have knocked several times. Well, that doesn't mean I can't praise God in the hallway!
Let's break out the car songs . . . . ;-)
Which of these answers would be the hardest for you to hear? If you're like me, you would say the third. The why of a yes or no isn't as tough to deal with as the "how long?!" of a wait. But so often that's exactly where I find myself: waiting. And it's easy to get discouraged if I keep staring into the dense fog obscuring what's ahead.
I like how Corrie Ten Boom expressed the futility of it. She said: "Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear....Never fear to trust an unknown future to a known God."
We are exhorted in scripture to live by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) in light of a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). This is not an empty suggestion, but a vital expression of a life surrendered to Christ. In a culture drowning in the "easier and faster is better" philosophy it can be a constant struggle to maintain joy and peace in the waiting seasons. Yet I am convinced that being patient is not sitting around moping, wishing, sighing for something I'm not sure of.
Patience is faith that endures.
It endures the difficulty of known obstacles, the uncertainty of fluctuating variables, the frustration of invisible progress, and the temptation to get depressed with the slow, lingering passage of Time.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
~ Hebrews 6:11-12
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. ~ Psalm 27:14
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. ~ Isaiah 40:31
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. ~ Romans 8:25
When I find myself growing restless or impatient, here is how I take stock:
Let's take a brief example. If I am expecting a call that would mean a trip somewhere, I can already start packing my bag. But what if the call doesn't come, or it turns out the trip is unnecessary? Well, then I unpack the bag! That wasn't so hard, now, was it? And yes, I have "been there, done that." :)
Keeping busy by being productive while I'm waiting helps me to maintain a proper perspective even as I prepare for when the season of waiting comes to an end. And it does! When the answer is "Wait" it is not for an indefinite period of dangling in limbo. Remember, God is always faithful to his promises:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3
So for all you fellow "waiters" out there, my prayer for you is that:
...you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. ~ Colossians 1:9b-12
The Cold Read
This past week I had the privilege of teaching at a film workshop in Denver, CO, with my brother and sister, who are also heavily involved in the film industry. I spoke about what scheduling looks like, and explained a sample call sheet, but the bulk of what I shared had to do with acting: auditioning, character study, and what it's like on set.
One of the topics that came up was the "cold read." That's a casting term for when an actor is asked to audition with sides (scenes from the script) that they have not previously studied. You haven't had time to warm up for it, so it's called reading it "cold."
For acting, the first time I did a cold read was about a year and a half ago. I had studied on how one should approach it, but was still nervous about the actual execution (ominous word, I know, but it captures well the essence of the moment). I had five minutes with the script before I was "on," and the adrenaline from the focused energy made me feel like I'd been running after an active three-year-old for an hour with no breaks. No, it was not comfortable to do. Yes, I was apprehensive. But it was also surprisingly fun! (Especially when they called the next day to offer me the role)
As far as my life goes? "Cold read" situations pop up with disconcerting frequency. By God's grace, I have but to ask to receive inside tips and wisdom on how to handle them.
There are several keys to keep in mind when faced with a cold read. They are much the same as an ordinary audition. The main difference is being able to snap into a faster gear to prep. Here goes:
God has information about the situation (script) that you don't. He can give you wisdom about how to go about things that will make sense in the actual context—even without you knowing what that context is!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Stress (dismay) isn't going to help anyway. When the thought comes: "I can't do this!", simply agree quickly. "Sure enough, 'I' can't do this. However, there's this other factor to take into account. God is going to help me. That means that not only can I survive this, but I can certainly 'take possession' on top!" Leave your worries with him and enjoy the experience.
The temptation is to dwell on what we don't have to go on. The if-only's can be exhausting! But what DO you have? Start there. God can show you how to use it in unexpected ways. (Go read the rest of the story to find out how the widow used her oil)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Indecision is a fearful stance toward something which you feel in the dark about. The key is to walk in obedience to the light you already have. Be courageous! We do not walk alone. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no. Don't waffle between them in the "maybes."
Even if you can't get it word for word, try to understand each point being made. Speak according to the need. Don't just put words out there that won't propel the situation in the right direction.
In regard to life's unexpected turns, don't spill out whatever comes to mind to say. Words are powerful! Have an arsenal of faith-building words at the ready in case you need to remind yourself that if God is for you, who can be against you? What you're facing might be new to you, but that is not a good reason for your trust in God to falter. His power and wisdom and love remain unfazed.
~ Psalm 32:8-9
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
~ Isaiah 30:21
Don't get stuck on a certain way to do things. If a yes-no option isn't clear at the outset, or you see a a roadblock ahead on the route you had chosen, feel free to mix it up. Let the Holy Spirit guide you on your way; keep your satellite reception strong for the Gospel Positioning System.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:12-14
What if the decisions you made weren't the right ones? What if you completely misread the script? What if you stumbled on your lines, or failed to reach that level of emotion you were going for? Let the Director give you his feedback. That's what counts, anyway.
Is God not bigger than our mistakes? Of course he is! Let him be your judge, your coach, and your teacher. He understands what we're going through.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8
Savoring The Season
Last week we wrapped principal photography on a movie entitled Christmas Grace, produced by Bright Horizon Pictures and Crystal Creek Media.
Doing winter scenes in summertime highlighted for me another application of being "prepared in season and out of season." Aside from accepting the physical discomfort of warm clothing in warm weather, there is a certain mental preparation to embrace the switch-up instead of rebelling against it.
Seasonal confusion is not exclusive to the film industry. I had plenty of practice growing up in adapting to different situations, many times without much advance notice. I was also blessed with a large family going through it all with me, modeling and training flexibility, patience, and joy under stress. And recently, God is leading me to an greater appreciation of seasons, and the importance of living and trusting Today.
God is with us in the storms that roll in and whip the hair in our face until we can't see. God is with us when the fruit that we thought should be ripe is still green with the slightest streaks of color showing. God is with us when the leaves of our dreams start to grow on branches that were bare for months and years.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Here is my current version:
There is a time to travel and a time to stay home,
a time to pack and a time to unpack,
a time to junk a car and a time to buy one,
a time to stay awake driving and a time to stop and rest,
a time to cry and a time to laugh,
a time to grieve and a time to twirl around...
A time to memorize and a time to improvise,
a time to submit an audition and a time to wait for a verdict,
a time to wear make-up and a time to wash it off,
a time to be "talent" and a time to help as crew,
a time to dress a set and a time to tear it down,
a time to be outdoors and a time to stay out of the sun...
A time to sleep in and a time to get up early,
a time to plan ahead and a time to be spontaneous,
a time to embrace and a time to step back,
a time to socialize and a time to be alone,
a time to keep and a time to give away,
a time to call and a time to let the other call first...
A time to be stubborn and a time to relent,
a time to be serious and a time to be goofy,
a time to hold up bravely and a time to let down,
a time to be silent and a time to share,
a time to remember and a time to forget,
a time to forgive and a time to be forgiven.
All of these seasons I have roller-coastered through in the last month, and/or I am riding them out now. Opportunities to remember the "secret" have abounded. Every moment presents a choice to live fully, joyfully. In spite of scenes that seem out of order, in spite of emotions that threaten to homestead in the suffocating prairie of Worry, in spite of plans made and unmade, choosing to live THIS day that the Lord has made, and be glad in it!
No matter what the season, there is a purpose for it. And no matter how the seasons may change, or how slowly or quickly according to our minds:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
~ Romans 8:28, 31-32
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~ Matthew 6:33-34
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning." ~ Daniel 2:20-21
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." ~ 1 Peter 5:6-10
For anyone who is curious about how theology and acting go together, this is the post for you! In doing my character study for my next acting role (Virginia Page in IN HIS STEPS: the series) it has struck me once again how similar it can be to learning who we are in Christ.
Coming to understand how the character thinks and how this translates directly to her words and actions echoes the exhortation to "renew our minds" and so know God's "approved and perfect will" for how we should live (Romans 12:1-2). Actions follow thoughts. "For as he thinks within himself, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) If the thoughts are in order, the actions that are "scripted" or "directed" to follow make perfect sense.
Let's take an example.
She hangs up on him. (....)
If the script indicates that my story character is acting out in anger, I must investigate all clues to discover the underlying source of what I am feeling threatened by that would cause me to lash out this way. Anger can encompass a broad range of stimuli, and is often a reaction born of fear. So how do I know what my character is afraid of? There can be multiple factors at work, and this is where context really helps.
Symptomatic emotions might be envy, bitterness, or insecurity. But when you break it down, envy is fear that what someone else has (or has the potential to have) will give them greater satisfaction and happiness than we can ever have without possessing that very thing ourselves. Bitterness is believing that what happened in the past has forever robbed you of a worthwhile future. Insecurity dons many masks: power abuse (desire for control; micro-management), doormat syndrome (desire for acceptance and approval no matter the cost), flamboyant condescension (desire for freedom from perceived constraints and disdain for limits, authority, and tradition). Any of these (which are but a brief sampling of possibilities) may manifest themselves as a simple action or exclamation of anger.
Once the source of emotion is identified, I can then construct the sequence of thoughts that would logically support and lead to this behavior/dialogue for my character in the scene. Of course the hard part, both in acting and in life, is to be aware and discerning of what our mind is dwelling on and accepting for truth, and "take captive" thoughts that do not belong in this new way of thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5). My job is to determine through careful study the thoughts that I, as my character, need to think to have the desired outcome. To do this I run them through my character's belief and personality filter.
It's the same for a Christian; thoughts will come both invited and uninvited into our heads. "But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16) Not all thoughts are welcome to stay anymore. Many must be shown the door as soon as they try to sign in. Always check them against the "guest list": is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? Think about these things! (Philippians 4:8)
We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17); "...the old has gone, the new has come!" What is our character like now? Maybe we aren't sure what it all means yet. But in scripture we have a wealth of resource at hand to delve into the depths of what we are to think, believe, and be. Not only that, but we have the help of the Holy Spirit also to teach us and lead us into all Truth. There exists no better life coach than he.
Every time we find ourselves voicing or acting out something that does not line up with the Truth of who we are in Christ, we have an incredible opportunity to stop and identify what negative belief we are holding to. Once located, to effectively remove it, we must replace it with a conquering Truth derived from our knowledge of the One who is Truth himself, Jesus Christ.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32
Disrobe yourself from the lies you are clinging to! Wrap yourself in true knowledge that leads to life—life abundant, dripping over, resplendent with righteousness, peace, and joy (John 10:10; Romans 14:17)!
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put it like this:
"To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
~ 2 Peter 1:2-11
In Christ we are new creations. The Truth will set us free to live that way.