There was not supposed to be a paralyzing snow storm. The performance was not supposed to be cancelled. The drummers were not supposed to be rescheduled. Two of the actors were not supposed to drop out. The director’s wife was not supposed to fall on the ice and break her leg in four places. The choir was not supposed to postpone the practiced anthem.
All this happened as we were getting ready to perform the story Stepping Stones for this Sunday. It is a refugee story and we didn’t see how it could possibly fit in worship once we finished the theme of “Finding Refuge.” Maybe it was simply not to be. I’m a big believer in letting things go.
But I’m also a big believer in signs. So I asked God for sign. “Please give me a sign that we are supposed to go forward with this production.”
I hoped to get the sign in my dreams so I ate raisins before going to sleep. I heard this will help you dream. Sipping bedtime tea and saying a little prayer I ate them one by one. Then of course I brushed and flossed. I’m not a monster.
I slept well but no dreams that I could remember. So I read the Sunday paper. I’ve gotten signs while reading the paper before. I’ll come across an editorial, a story, a photo—something that is related to what I’m pondering—and I’ll suddenly understand something. But there was no sign this time.
When news of the director’s wife came, we thought for sure we would cancel the whole thing. How could we even ask him to do this? In spite of his exhaustion he left it up to us. But was this the right thing to do? Should we go on with the performance? I pleaded for a sign. And I waited.
Just in case we went forward I decided to practice my audio cues since I’m doing sound effects. I opened my script. It is the story of refugees told through a child’s eyes. Her village was not supposed to be bombed. War was not supposed to begin in her country. Her friends were not supposed to be killed. Her family was not supposed to flee for their lives—but they do.
I practiced the cues over and over. Then I took a break to have a cup of tea and flip through a magazine because sometimes God has been known to give me a sign through a Neutrogena ad. But not this time.
I went back to the story. They flee their home on foot. And they walk. And they walk and walk and walk. They carry their belongings on their backs. They go hungry. The children cry. Yet they keep on. Nothing stops them—not even a very scary journey across the ocean. I practiced my sound effects several times.
Let me just interject here and admit that I can be knee-deep in tulips while cherry blossoms fall on my head and then ask, “Is it spring yet?” I can be dense.
Last night in rehearsal I suddenly got it. I heard the child say, “I was tired. So tired.” But they carried on. The entire script was my sign all along.
Yes, I can be dense but I think this also speaks to the sneaky way God answers us. God’s response frequently sits right in front of us. The signs we beg for are often plain and ordinary and every day. But we long for the spectacular—something that could go viral on YouTube. And that speaks to the way our culture has conditioned us to want the Big, the Amazing, the Fantastic, the Brilliant. We want the razzle and the dazzle.
So now I’m watching and listening for Spirit to speak through the things and people right in front of me. But with Spirit, who can say what is supposed to happen? I just know that the story of Stepping Stones has taught me to keep going even when it’s hard.
Please let me know what it teaches you.