In the twenty-five years I directed high school drama, I came to dread the first read-through after casting a show: there was always “drama” in drama. I told the cast I based my casting decisions on the actor’s previous experience and devotion as well as his or her size, shape and vocal talent. I learned so much about my young people and they learned so much about me in these projects. First read-throughs with the new cast revealed who couldn’t read, who hadn’t considered his entire role, and who didn’t have much enthusiasm for the part he was asked to play. This first meeting revealed a great deal about the students (the character in the characters). I knew right away who would whine, who would encourage, and who would pitch in for someone absent. Since changing the emphasis of one word can change meaning so much, it often took three or four rehearsals for the actors to get the best interpretation of the most significant dialogue.
When I hear about star “misbehavior” in my limited exposure to pop culture, I find it so amusing. I can understand the dynamic—one person didn’t get the part he auditioned for; another devotee resented another cast member’s sloppy preparation; another one hoped that the pretty ingénue would date him. (In fact, I even had to referee a fist fight after a rehearsal once because two guys in the cast liked the same girl.) My job as the director was to make the best use of the talents and devotion at my disposal to work for the best possible show for the audience. As a teacher, I also wanted the students to just have fun making a great high school memory and to learn how to take responsibility, to get along with others in a new setting. I often watch the entire cast build confidence over the course of a show. That opening night came to be a dessert to be savored, a triumph over the arduous weeks of their rehearsals and the difficulties in their personal lives.
All these ideas have a spiritual parallel. The director’s decisions came to mind as I listened to my minister the Sunday Irma was coming ashore downstate. I was upset, but God makes the ultimate casting and directing choices. I recalled Job 38 where God takes Job to task for questioning His judgement: “Who is this who darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man: I will question you. And you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand?…Who shuts the sea behind doors when it bursts forth from the womb? When I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness? When I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place? When I said thus far you may come and no farther? Here is where your proud waves halt?” (Job 38: 2-4, 8-11. NIV). He made it all. He sets its limits. He speaks to us through the storms. He gets to decide if we are thrown into the midst of one or if we watch it from afar.
I was upset because we prayed for Hurricane Irma to move out to the Atlantic and not invade our state. I prayed all week for this, and it just didn’t happened. God didn’t see fit to move Irma (or Harvey or Wilma for that matter) although there were countless thousands of Godly people who prayed for just that. We “asked and kept on asking” as we were taught. What God did instead was provide local authorities and weather personnel who planned well. He also allowed the storms to weaken as they came ashore which greatly reduced the loss of life and property. He then moved on the hearts of the nation to send help and pray for those affected.
As pastor spoke Sunday from Mark 4 about the disciples in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, I considered God’s sovereignty. He was with them. He chooses the direction and intensity of all of the storms in our lives. The storms are the director’s decision. They bring us closer to Him and give opportunities to demonstrate His glory and power. Our trust in Him is not misplaced. David said in Psalm 9:9-10, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (NIV).
Oh God, I trust you to bring your purposes to pass for me even though my role may not be comfortable or easy. Thank you for your constant care. Show me what I’m supposed to learn from the hard times. I praise you for hard times as well as the good ones.
- Hard Prayers for Hard Times
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