This is not what I had imagined.
How do you do a musical if you can’t sing? It was the final performance of my local stage debut. The musical I love. The part I love. And, of the twenty fantastic actors out there, I get the privilege of singing the solo in the finale’. But I can’t sing. There is simply no flexibility left in my vocal chords. I simply can’t sing.
And the victory goes to the poorest-timed virus of my life!… or does it?
Because the other thing I hadn’t imagined was the peace I felt in that moment. In all fairness I was a wreck thirty minutes earlier. I sobbed in the bathroom, frustrated, scared and uncertain how I was supposed to do anything if it hurt to talk. There was no technique to help this. My voice was spent. It was spent the night before and it was doubly spent now. Sometimes you storm your way into the arms of Peace. Powerless I had cried. Then someone looked me in the face and said “I don’t think you can sing either… but tell the story.” In that moment I found some footing and decided even if I couldn’t sing a note I was going to pour myself out on that stage.
Standing behind that blue fabric, looking up at the lights and waiting for those last few words before the finale’ a joy and a peace washed over me. I lifted my hands and felt it from my gut- a voiceless thank you. Nothing that weekend went as I would have liked- would have thought. It was eight shades of ugly. But after the curtain call I exited up-center stage for the last time proud, content and grateful.
Our world places a high prize on success. It loves a good performance. It loves results. A man can work an honest job for years and never be hailed as a success story. Someone else can start reselling golf clubs off of Craiglists and happen to break a million annually to the praise of all. In scanning the scriptures it becomes apparent that our Father does not share that value system. He commands us- not to success but to victory. You can have success without opposition but not victory. To be victorious you must overcome.
When I started this play a friend “randomly” sent me a message that she was praying and felt God say He was going to “release my voice”. This came five minutes after I had prayed that the lumps on my vocal chords would be healed. I assumed it was an answer to that prayer. Not so much. In retrospect, I don’t believe this was every really about my physical talent. Not the lumps on my chords, not my skill as an actor, or even my ability to read music. I suspect those things were not nearly as relevant as I thought.
No, my voice, it seems, runs right down past my larynx and into my heart. This was about faith. This was about confidence in the calling. This was about overcoming. My voice was found in the willingness to believe that if I had been chosen to do something then there was a way to do it. Maybe not without a struggle… but a way. And the cold, the lumps- they were never as big of a hindrance as my own doubt.
And God was faithful to bring me through that process. I find it deliciously ironic that I completed my first show with ten times the voice I had at finale’ and was so dismayed by my performance that I nearly threw up (see previous blog post). I was so scared. If you would have told me that three weeks later I was going to end up speaking one of the biggest solos in the entire show and feel good about it I would have laughed in your face. But my Father, He knows me well and He cares about my heart- our hearts. He knows what we need to be healthy and grow.
As children of God we face all sort of trials. We are unqualified, we are beset, we are pregnant with promises, and we are, in the midst of it all, commissioned. We’ve been selected to play a role. To tell a story. And though we often find ourselves nearly rendered mute in this fallen state we look up, and find a way. With broken voice- even broken faith- we breath into it. We believe. We overcome the trial. We overcome the fear. And no matter how hindered that voice is on the way out, we throw our cape, we flash our eyes, and we leave the message on the stage- victorious.
1 John 5:4 “…This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”