Monday, March 28, 2016

Players With No Lines

In the past eight years, I've written four full-length plays, six one-acts, and a boatload of skits, which have all been performed before relatively good-sized audiences. So, I suppose I could call myself a playwright. I still don't quite feel comfortable assuming that label, though. Just looking at those numbers – and remembering the conversation I had with a friend about a year before this binge began in which I stated emphatically that "I am not a writer" – I don't feel like I can really take credit for much of that. This has been a God thing. Every time I sat down to write another drama for somebody, I wondered if this would be the day that the spigot would run dry and God's work would be done in that area of my life.

However, I bring up my play-writing experience because it explains why I think I reacted so strongly to a quote I read in an article a while back. The author was referring to a book about prayer by Paul Miller (which is now on my gift list – Mother's Day is coming up, and my birthday is in August, ahem). Here is the quote that stuck with me:

When we have a praying life, we become aware of and enter into the story God is weaving in our lives. . . . Prayer is not the center of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the center. . . . We are actors in his drama, listening for our lines, quieting our hearts so we can hear the voice of the Playwright. . . If you are going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control . . .

God is the playwright. He writes the script of our lives. Our job is to "listen for our lines" so we can submit to his storyline.

That listening can be a challenging task, however. I don't know how many times I've wished I had an actual printed script in hand, with my lines and stage directions written out for me. The Playwright's voice is difficult to hear some days.

But I recall certain times in my writing when a character kind of took over the script – not in a bad way or spooky way. I mean, I created a character, and then I created a situation that the character would be in, and from that point, the lines and stage directions seemed to create themselves. I was almost taking dictation as I wrote – I simply copied down what that character would naturally say and do in that situation. Only if I had a twist to insert for the sake of my greater theme did I inject myself as playwright again. But that often wasn't even necessary; if my characters and situation were set up well, the drama wrote itself.

And I'm wondering now if that isn't something like what the Great Playwright does. He creates us . . . more than that, He continually RE-creates us, if we put ourselves in His hands to do so. He orchestrates the situations around us, a profoundly complex choreography of plotlines and conflicts and climaxes that all promote his general theme. And at some point, when we have submitted to His molding and will, He no longer needs to feed us lines. We can improvise, based on who He has made us and where He has placed us. We do what is natural to us.

So, we don't need to be so worried about saying the right things or doing the right things . . . we just need to be worried about being the right person, being the person God is re-creating us to be. And we know who that person is by knowing who Christ is.

Get to know Him intimately, and the rest falls into place. Know Him well enough to know that you can safely give Him control. That's doable. That's a manageable goal when the world is falling apart around me. Just know the Playwright. 

1 comment: