Several years ago, my oldest son participated in a production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol at Theatre Memphis. While Reuben learned the roles of the Sled Boy, Ignorance, a chimney sweep, and a street urchin, Big Sister and I volunteered to work as stage hands. If I'd known ahead of time what we were getting into, I think we'd have skipped auditions! Rehearsals began in October - we met five nights a week, for 3+ hours of practice. Once the play opened, performances were held every evening except Monday, with additional matinee performances on weekends. This exhausting schedule lasted from Thanksgiving weekend until just a few days before Christmas. I truly believe that, long before closing night, the entire cast and every one of the backstage workers could have recited the complete script from memory!
Tiring - absolutely. But also tremendous fun. And amazingly, the work never got boring. The frantic silent bustle backstage, dressing and undressing actors, readying props in the pitchblack wings. The wild diversity of personalities - Kevin, who showed up for rehearsal on Halloween dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, complete with ruby slippers (oh, yes); Anna, whose glow-in-the-dark tongue stud gave her a nearly blinding smile in the blackness that was "back stage"; the adult twins, Shawn and Kelley, who loved to pull surprises on stage to test other actors' ability to focus; Jim, the ghost of Christmas present, whose beautiful baritone and joy for life filled the theatre just months before he succumbed to throat cancer.
A dear friend and her family made a special trip to see A Christmas Carol that holiday season. Afterwards, Shannon commented the play had been great...but that when Reuben walked on stage, she had only been able to focus on him. The story, the music, the other characters faded to insignificance as he played his very minor parts. "All I could think was, That's MY Reuben! That's MY Reuben!" she laughed. "I was so proud of him, I wanted to stand up and tell everyone in the audience - LOOK! That's MY Reuben!"
Her experience got me to thinking. In the drama that is this life, that's how God looks at each of His children. I may stumble on stage, or say the wrong lines, or totally miss my cue. Shoot, I may even dive into the orchestra pit. But God looks at me through loving eyes and says, "That's MY Camille!"
Circumstances and our emotions sometimes conspire to deceive us, to make us believe that God groans at the mere thought of us, that we are to God nothing but a source of grief and constant frustration. But we do not have such a pathetic salvation as that, sisters and brothers. We are not saved to the extent that God is now able to barely tolerate us, to endure our existence without obliterating us with lightning bolts. We are saved completely, radically, eternally. We are HIS, and He loves and delights in us.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory: The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, ...shall please God. To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son - it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.
God loves me because I am His - not because I have mastered the "stage" of life. He delights in me like a father in a son/daughter. Almost too good to believe, isn't it? But so it is.
The morning after the visits from the ghosts...
Ebenezer Scrooge (leaning out the window): You, there! Boy! What's today?
Sled Boy: Today, Sir? Why, it's Christmas Day!
3 months ago