Tonight was another Easter play at Hershey Free. I always go, even when others groan that it is the same as the one done a couple years ago. For me, it is always a new chance for God to show up.
I didn't want to go to that first one. My husband really wanted to go, but I was being obstinate, as usual. Christian plays were lame. Husband was irritating me. I was nervous, not knowing what to wear for church things. Still, I went because husband had made a friend, and it was important to him to spend time with that friend.
I also just didn't want to have to sort through this God thing again. The Christian God that I had grown up with was more like some dusty, obscure character from a fable. My current higher power and I seemed to be getting along, and I wanted to just leave it alone. Still, in this weird place in my head, or maybe it was my heart, I knew that the categories weren't quite real and perhaps just rebellion disguised as an intellectual conversation.
The play was well done. I loved the orchestra. Having played the violin for many years as a child, I appreciate real instruments. The Jesus stuff was rather ho-hum. I didn't believe it anyway. It was ok for them to believe whatever they wanted, even if they believe this odd fairy tale.
But suddenly it became too real, maybe it was the dramatic change in the music, or the lighting, or maybe I was tired. The centurions kicked and pushed the bleeding actor down the walkway to the stage. The pained expression of the actor, the resignation in his body language, the grief of his mother, caught me by surprise. Emotion welled up.
"God, whoever you are, please don't do this to me. Can't you break this up? I can't stand it!" I prayed as tears ran.
As the one guard went to nail Jesus' hand to the cross, the tension nearly overwhelmed me. The Roman swung the mallet fiercely and the head flew off and bounced. I am not sure everyone noticed because the actors did a good job of staying in character, but I noticed. I chuckled, first at the mallet, and because I realized God was listening to me.
Then I realized I was in a new predicament: how to respond to a God who responded to me.
I said thank you, of course, but I couldn't shake the sense that Someone had upped the anty. Things had shifted from a comfortable kept-at-arm's-length understanding of a nebulous higher power to an active interaction with God. I left that play knowing something was different. Of course, that something was me, but it was also that the track I had been following was changed.
I didn't suddenly understand the Bible. I wasn't a Jesus Freak. But I was curious. As my curiousity grew, I became more willing and more open. I asked questions. I read. Gradually God revealed more to me. He is not a fable or a fairy tale. He is much too alive for that.
It was many months later that I was faced with a choice: my life or God's life for me. At that time I chose to consciously try it His way, but I also know I wouldn't have chosen Him had He not already chosen me.
As I watched the play this year, a new face sat beside me, anxious, uncomfortable, and fidgety. I couldn't help but be a little excited for her.
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19