Today, I would like to share with you a comparison that I stumbled upon recently between theatre and God.
I am a theatre nerd. I was introduced to theatre, or drama club as it were, my sophomore year in high school. My junior year in high school I was treasurer of our drama club and by my senior year I was president. I hold both a B.A. in technical theatre and an M.A. in speech with the focus on theatre. I have worked in professional theatre, equity and non-equity, and community theatre. Overall, I spent more than ten years of my life working in theatre in some form or fashion. And, while I haven’t worked on a play in about eighteen years, I will always love it and it will always hold a dear place in my heart and life.
When most people think of theatre, or plays, the first thing that comes to mind is acting and/or actors. Most people’s acquaintance to theatre is as an audience member, so that makes a lot of sense. However, there is considerably more to theatre than meets the eye. It is made up of markedly more than just the actors and acting.
There is a whole other world that takes place behind the scenes and an abundance of work that goes into every production prior to the “finished” product that you witness. What makes theatre so magical, in my humble opinion, is that, if done correctly, as an audience member, you don’t even realize this part of it. What you get is simply a seamless experience—an escape, if you will, into another universe. You should be so immersed in that play’s particular environment, that you don’t even notice everything that is happening behind the scenes--the practical logistics of it. And, trust me, there are a slew of logistics!
As I noted above, my degrees are in technical theatre. Most people don’t really understand what that term means, so let me enlighten you. Technical theatre encompasses scenery, lighting, costuming, sound, and properties. Basically, it is everything that goes into a production other than the acting. And, it takes an army of people to get all of this work done. You have playwrights, dramaturgs, stage directors, production or stage managers, technical directors, scene designers, lighting designers, costume designers, prop designers, sound designers, carpenters, scenic charge artists (or painters), electricians, audio engineers, prop masters, costumers, stagehands, and board operators. If you are producing a musical you can add in musicians and choreographers. (And, these are just the people that come to mind right now, I am sure I am forgetting some people—my apologies to my fellow theatre peeps.)
So, what does any of this have to do with God and being a Christian? Well, a great deal.
I like to think of God as our playwright. He created us and brought us into being. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. (See Hebrews 12:2). Each of us is a character in this play called “Life.” And, we each play a critical role, weather we realize it or not. As Konstantin Stanislavski, the great Russian theatre practitioner, once remarked, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” We each play the lead role in our own lives. And, while the role we play in our own lives is critical, our roles are just as meaningful and necessary in the grand scheme of things, or the play of “Life” that I referred to earlier.
And while God is our playwright, He is also every theatre technician that I mentioned above, working furiously behind the scenes of our lives. Rarely, if ever, do we get a chance to see “behind the curtain” of heaven, but there are about a bazillion things going on back there. (Much the same as it is in theatre.)
If you went backstage during a show, you would see lots of folks running around and doing stuff that made zero sense to you. Even if you are a bonafide theatre nerd like me, and have a good idea of what is happening, you would never fully understand all the intricacies of it unless you were a part of it from the beginning. And, the only entity who has been around since the beginning is God. Only He knows what He doing. As a Christian, I am learning and growing every day—but I only grasp a very small part of His overall grand design. So, much like being backstage during a play, oftentimes our own lives make very little sense. And, that’s ok. What matters most is how it all comes together in the end.
As an audience member, a good audience member, it is our job to sit back and take it all in. We, as good audience members, must do what is referred to as “the willing suspension of disbelief.” Basically, this means that it is necessary for us to accept the given premises and parameters of the story unfolding in front of us. It is our job to simply believe. It is both a very easy and a very complicated thing to do. Just believe.
I really like what Ed Hooks has to say about this topic:
“A theatrical experience is a unique thing. Think about it, focusing for the moment on the legitimate theatre: Actors, audience members, tech crews all come together at the same time in the same place for a common purpose. Their meeting is not any more random than meetings at church, synagogue or mosque. The purpose of this meeting is to share a theatrical experience, and all parties – including the audience members - have to work together to make it happen.”
In theatre, as with life, we have to work together to make the desired outcome happen.
As audience members at a play, we have no idea what is going on backstage. This is how it is and how it should be. As members of the audience of the play, we have to work together and believe, with the actors and tech crews, to make the theatrical experience happen.
As members of the body of Christ, we have no idea what is going on behind the scenes in heaven. Again, this is how it is and how it should be. We have to work together with God and believe in Him and trust Him and all that He is doing behind the scenes.
If we work successfully with the actors and tech crews at a play, we should walk away with a joyful, fulfilling experience. All we have to do is just believe.
If we work successfully together with God, we should come away with a joyful, fulfilling life. All we have to do is just believe.
We moved into our new home three weeks ago. If you haven’t moved in a while, I must remind you that moving is stressful. And tiring. (And, categorically sweaty in the summertime). Plus, moving with three cats and one dog is even more stressful and tiring! I would really like at least one week on a beach somewhere doing nothing but reading books and sipping pina coladas and allowing my body to recover! Alas, that won’t be happening any time soon. Le sigh…
Anyway, I had to share with you one part of our moving experience that was simple, and if I may say so, amazing. It was literally a God-send.
We hired a local moving company to move our belongings to our new home. We had used them before and remembered them doing a good job for us, so we figured we would use them again. And, I am so thankful we did!
The company we hired is called A Better Way Movers. They are part of A Better Way Ministries, a local nonprofit that helps men find refuge from life controlling issues such as drugs and alcohol. Their program is Christ-centered and Biblically-based. The moving company is used to help fund their ministry. They offer packing services and do both local and out-of-state moves. You can get a free estimate by visiting their website or giving them a call. And, we were blessed to have them help us with our move.
On the morning of our move three guys showed up. Being the natural introvert that I am, I always find it awkward to meet new people, and this was no exception. But, as soon as one of the guys reached his hand out to let our dog smell him in way of greeting and expressed how much he liked animals, I knew we were in good hands.
Broderick, Jordan, and Joshua were our movers and they were top-notch. Not only did they do their jobs quickly and effectively, but they did it with smiles on their faces the whole time. They took extra special care of our items and did not damage anything—not the items, not our old home or our new one.
By the end of the day, I had felt like we had made three new friends. However, I hadn’t seen anything yet. Before these new friends left, they presented us with a printed “House Blessing” and asked if they could pray with us! I was floored! I looked at Paul, my hubby, and, just like me, he had tears in his eyes. Of course, we heartily accepted their invitation.
We all gathered in our living room and Joshua led us in a wonderful, spirit-filled prayer. Afterwards, I asked if I could hug each of them, and they were happy to oblige me. I had realized that not only had we made three new remarkable friends that day, but we met our brothers in Christ. We were truly moved by the whole experience. (Horrible pun intended!)
That evening as we sat exhausted in our living room, I told Paul that I felt like, once we got everything settled into our new home, we should have a cook-out and invite our three new friends over. Who knows? Maybe sometime soon we can actually do that!
In past posts, you may have noticed that I sometimes refer to my “mystery illness”. Today, I thought I would share a little more about that with all of you. It is my hope that by sharing about it and shining a light on it, people will be more understanding about it. Or, maybe you have similar issues yourself, and if that is the case, it is nice to know you are not alone.
My mystery illness journey started about eight or nine years ago. I used to enjoy working out three days a week at our local YMCA. I did that for a few years, and then the economy tanked and I lost my job. So, I said sayonara to my Y membership. It took me a good year and half before I found another job.
Once I finally got another job, I realized I wanted to work out again on a steady basis. So, one Friday after work, I headed off to the gym. Since it had been a while since I worked out, I knew I needed to ease back into it and start of slowly. I spend some time on the treadmill and worked out my arm and leg muscles on a few machines set on low weight. I cooled down by walking on the treadmill again. I spent about 45 minutes total working out. And, during that whole time I drank my big bottle of water. (I knew it was important to stay hydrated.) Before I left, I filled my water bottle back up so I could continue to drink on the way home.
I was feeling ok overall, then I opened the door to walk out. For whatever reason, the heat outside hit me hard. I remember thinking that I just needed to get to the car, sit down and crank up the air and drink more water and I would be fine. I wasn’t.
Once I made it to my car, I wasn’t even sure I could drive myself home. I remember thinking that I should call my husband to come get me. And, we only lived three miles away! Then I remember chastising myself because it was only three miles away. Surely, I could drive that with no problem!
Somehow, I did make it home. I also managed to get inside and collapse on the couch. And, that is where I stayed until Sunday night. My body felt like someone had taken a baseball to it. My head was in a fog. My hubby brought food to me and helped me get into bed at night and back onto the couch in the mornings. I recall wondering how on earth I was going to make it to work on Monday.
Thank the Lord, by Monday morning, I was feeling slightly better and went to work. But, I wasn’t 100 percent. I was maybe, maybe, 60 percent of my normal self. Obviously, something wasn’t right. I wanted to know what was wrong. I needed to know what was wrong. And, thus started my exploration into the black abyss that is my body and health.
I went to see my GP. His first thought was that I was dehydrated and had heat exhaustion. I scaled up my water intake and hoped that would solve my problem. It didn’t.
Over the course of the next several months I went back to my GP often. We went over a litany of possible problems/causes. I came up negative for every test I took. When I found zero answers with my GP, I started going to specialists.
I went to a cardiologist, an internist, a pulmonologist, and an endocrinologist. I had a small glimmer of hope when my endocrinologist told me that there was indeed something wrong with me. But, what that something was, he could never figure out.
Then, I decided to try a different route. I went to three different homeopathic doctors, a chiropractor, and an acupuncturist. I felt like I made a little more progress going in this direction. I started taking herbal supplements and stopped eating gluten and felt a little better. Emphasis on little.
In between all of this, I went to a rheumatologist. He diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “test” I can take that says definitively that I have fibromyalgia. It isn’t like diabetes where they can run tests and say, yes, you for sure have this. Basically, when you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they get to this conclusion by ruling out every other option.
Most people that I know who have fibromyalgia are in constant pain. (I know of about three ladies like this.) Thank the Lord, I am NOT in constant pain.
Other people have suggested that maybe I have chronic fatigue syndrome. Maybe I do. After all, my main concern is the fact that I am tired all the time. Who knows?
I have a new friend in my neighborhood and we were talking the other day. Come to find out, she has almost the exact same issues and symptoms I have. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe that is what I have. Again, who knows?
Therefore, I question if I really have fibromyalgia or something else. Hence, why I refer to my health problem as a “mystery illness.”
The Mayo Clinic tells us that fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues.
I am constantly tired. That has been my biggest problem—just being fatigued and worn out, especially if I do anything that is labor intensive, like working out. Even carrying in groceries and folding laundry can drain me. And, when I do have more physical stuff to do, I can power through it, but I know I will pay for it later. I have trouble sleeping and mood issues sometimes. I also have achy joints. And, my joint achiness has been increasing over the years. So, maybe it is fibromyalgia.
In any case, whatever my “mystery illness” is, it is just something that I have learned to live with. I mean, what other option do I have?
I often find myself thinking about the words from the Lauren Daigle song Trust In You:
When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
Through this whole ordeal, I have learned to lean into the Lord and trust in Him. He is my strength and I know that with His help, I will make it through each day.
And, somehow, miraculously I do.
I know it has zero to do with me and everything to do with God.
Those of you who know me, know that I am enormous animal-lover. There are very few creatures on this earth that I don’t care for. I like most critters that others do not, including spiders, snakes, sharks, and bees. Actually, the only living thing that I don’t like is roaches. (They completely gross me out!)
And, if you know me, you also know that I considerably tender-hearted. So, it should come as no surprise to you that when I come across animals in distress, I do my best to help them. I will stop and help turtles cross the road. I will fish lizards out of water bowls. I will pick up wiggly worms from the sidewalk and put them back in the dirt. I will scoop up spiders inside the house and take them outside. I will guide hummingbirds out of my garage with a rake. I will pick up snakes and relocate them to safer areas. This is just who I am. It is who God made me to be.
This past Sunday, as I was taking Clancey for a walk, we came across a young opossum that was hurt. I could see a big scratch on his head and he was curled up, breathing heavily. I initially panicked, not knowing what to do. But, I knew I could not leave him there like that to die. I quickly headed back home to jump online and search for help. My husband and I tried calling at least six different places, hoping they could take him in. No one could. After those strike-outs, I got back online. It took me a while, but I finally got some help from a wildlife rehabber, Melissa, on a Facebook group I belong to.
Melissa first advised me to be careful in handling this baby, as opossums are wild and they do bite. However, most often they freeze up, or “play possum” and handling them shouldn’t be that hard. She told me to clean up his wound with peroxide and antibiotic ointment. She also told me he would appreciate some water and fruits and veggies.
By-the-time I got back to take care of the little guy, lots of flies were flying around. This really worried me. But, I got to work, cleaning up his head. I also noticed he was hurt under his arm as well. So, I cleaned that up too. Next, I put out some fresh water and peas for him and even tried putting some drops of water in his mouth. Next, I covered him with a cloth to keep the flies away. I then decided to leave him alone for a little while, and give him some time to rest.
Honestly, I needed some rest too. I was so worried over this little guy. I was anxious and fretting about him. I went home and cried and laid down for a quick nap. And, I think, most importantly, I prayed and prayed and prayed for him. I truly didn’t think he would make it.
The next time I went to check on him, well I almost didn’t even go. I didn’t think I could take seeing his little dead body lying there. But, I also had to know how he was doing. So, off I went, holding my breath.
When I got there, he was gone!
The cloth I had covered him up with was still there. The jar lids I put his food and water in were there. (Along with ants who were eating what was left of the food.) But, my little guy was gone.
The only thing I can figure is that God used me and that little bit of work I did on him, to allow him to rest up and leave of his own volition.
And, this is why I am sharing all of this with you today—God is so, so good!
God heard my prayers. He saw my tears. He saw my heart. And, He took care of this sweet little opossum.
To me, it was a miracle.
But, that is what God does, doesn’t He?
That is the business that God is in, isn’t He?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see this first-hand and be reminded of Your mercy and love. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in it. And, thank you for allowing me to share this with others. I give you all the glory. For, it is nothing that I did, but what You did.
In Your son’s name, I pray, Amen.
P.S. Did you know? Opossums eat ticks and copperheads. They are immune to snake venom and, due to low body temps, they rarely contract rabies. So, please show these critters some love!
A major life change is currently taking place in my family. We are preparing to move into our new home! It is an exciting, albeit, hectic and stressful time. Packing up all our belongings is one of those chores that demands physical strength and endurance. And, unfortunately for me, I don’t really have either one of those anymore. (Shout-out to my mystery illness!)
My husband and I have been anxiously awaiting this move for almost a year now. On the plus side, this time has granted me the freedom to clean up, clean out, purge, and pack things a little bit at the time. There is no way I would be able to handle doing all this the week before we move. (Talk about corporal punishment! I get exhausted just thinking about it.)
On another note, while waiting on our home to be built, I came across an idea that I thought was wonderful—and I want to share it will you. As I am sure you have already surmised, I love God. And, I want to grow in Him and share His love and light every day. With this endeavor, I am a work in progress!
I also want to fill my life with as much goodness as I can. This is especially true for our home. I mean home should be our sanctuary, right? It should be the place we long to be and feel most comfortable in. And, while I know that heaven is my true home, I want to make our earthly home as Godly and humble and inviting as I possibly can.
With that thinking in mind, it occurred to me that it would be lovely to find a blessing/prayer to christen our new home with. As I scouted around online, I stumbled upon an even better idea—write Bible verses in each room of your home. I must thank Laura Tucker for this fabulous idea. I encourage you to read her article A Strong Foundation: Bible Verses For Building A Home.
So, after deciding which Bible verses I wanted to use, I got my trusty Sharpie and went to work. Below are some pictures of the results. All of these are now covered in drywall and paint, but we know that they are there. And, more importantly, God knows they are there. I also wrote out this new home blessing in the middle of our living room floor:
May peace so fill this space
that strife will find no place.
May love so lift each heart
that pain will have no start.
May joy be in such supply
that sorrow’s tears will quickly dry.
And may each room be
filled with laughter, joy,
and song all the day long.
Building our new home on the firm foundation of God is the best investment we can ever make. It will pay dividends in every area of our lives. The same is true for you. It is true for all of us. When we put God first, everything else will fall into place.
Do you know that God loves you just as you are?
Just. As. You. Are.
He does NOT care what color your skin is.
He does NOT care how much money you have or don’t have.
He does NOT care if you are tall or short.
He does NOT care if you are a male or female.
He does NOT care if you are gay or straight or other.
He does NOT care about your sex, race, origin, or job.
He does NOT care how many “bad” things you have done in your life.
Look, we are all different and we all sin.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
God loves you.
Just the way you are.
He loves you just as you are, because you are His child.
He made you and He loves you.
Even with all your dirt, bruises, and scars.
He loves you.
Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
You need God in your life.
I need God in my life.
We all need God in our lives.
Let God in, won’t you?
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you fit some mold.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “good”.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “perfect”.
There is no mold.
God made each of us special and unique.
And the only thing that is perfect in this world is God’s love for us.
There is only one thing you need to do to have God in your life—invite Him in.
Invite God into your life.
Believe in God.
Trust in God.
He is all you need.
The only sin you can commit that God will NOT forgive you for, is the sin of not inviting Him into your life.
So, what are you waiting for?
Invite God in!
I am at a place in my life where one of the things I long for most is peace. I have always disliked drama and politics. I have never understood why people can’t just get along. In my mind, it is simple—treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, at the very least live and let live, as the old saying goes. (And, yes, I do get the irony that I am a theatre nerd, was president of drama club in high school, and have two degrees in theatre—or drama as it is sometimes called.)
At 43, I am officially middle-aged. I hate typing that. In my brain, I feel more like 28. But sadly, my body often reminds me that I am far from 28. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” This is from Philippians 4:7. And, this is what I want in my life.
So, how do we experience this peace? Where can we find it? How do we get it?
If you read your Bible, you will find the answer. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus left us His peace. It is one of His many gifts to us. We don’t need to ask for it. He has already given it to us. He left it for us a long time ago. Peace I leave with you. We just need to take it. Grab it. Step into it. Breathe it in. Soak in it. Heck, marinate in it!
God is peace. He is even referred to as the Prince of Peace. (See Isaiah 9:6) Once we know God, we can know peace. The more time we spend with Him, the closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can experience and benefit from!
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, “Who you spend the most time with is who you become”? I have heard it quite often. But, honestly, I am not sure if it is true or not. However, I hope and pray that I become more like God every day. It only makes sense to me that the best way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
When we remember to seek God in all things, He becomes our refuge, our sanctuary. God tells us that we can cast our cares, our worries, our problems, our sorrows, and our fears on Him. Then, we can let them go. (See 1 Peter 5:7) Being able to do this gives us peace. Once we learn how to do this, we start to grasp that, His peace really does pass all human understanding.
Now, this can and does take some time. It is not something that magically happens overnight. (At least, that wasn’t the case for me.) It was something that I had to work for. It is something that I still work for. I often have to remind myself that Jesus left me His peace. I just need to reach out and grab it!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.