By: Staci Stallings
One of the craziest things God has called me to is staging His story for our church. Most of the time it’s for VBS. We have done a little of everything in there–Paul’s story, including sinking a ship and a whole jail nearly shaking down around him; water coming from a rock; the healing of the paralytic (including “dropping her from the ceiling”), the Resurrection, and even Creation.
Each story is a challenge unto itself. Have you ever tried to get water from a rock? Have you ever tried to “build” the whole earth from darkness to everything in 15 minutes, torn it down and done it five times in a row within a three-hour span? Each story shows me directly and very powerfully how in detail God works, how miraculously the “stories” from the Bible really are. And we, the actors and directors, have learned so much as the stories come alive rather than just being some words in a book.
We’ve learned how the people got mad at Moses, and how hard it was for Moses to keep his temper in check with them. We’ve learned that God has a sense of humor and that he often puts puzzles together–past and present–in ways that are astounding.
And now, He’s at it again.
Three years ago, during one of the worst, most sorrowful stretches of my life, God directed me to write a version of the Stations of the Cross. It features the choices made by those who walked that path with Him. John, Mary, Pilate, and even Judas. What were they feeling? What did they think about the choices they made and were making? What did they think about God during those awful hours that Jesus carried that cross and then died on the top of that windswept hill?
I cannot even read through it without having to wait for the tears to clear. It goes in deep, yanks up my conscience and says, “What are YOU doing with your life? When are you Judas, selling God out for a few piece of silver? When are you Mary Magdalene, so blinded by your pain that you blame God and don’t see the bigger picture? When are you John, not understanding but determined to be there for the people you love?”
The thing is, when I wrote it, I envisioned a play with my kids’ parents doing the acting. Then life took over, and I didn’t get it done (maybe it just wasn’t time). Well, this year suddenly the idea was back, and the pieces started to fall into place.
There is a very special young man who has literally grown up with me doing VBS. He started as a sixth grader (the most obnoxious, ornery, energetic kid you’ve ever seen). Now, remarkably after seven seasons, he’s a foot taller than me, gentle and sweet, and a senior. He may be headed to the Air Force upon graduation. He has played God and Silas. He’s played the blind man and Moses. I think he’s learned as much about the Bible and these characters as I have. So when the Holy Spirit placed this idea on my heart, of course, Chris was my first thought to play Jesus.
The trouble is I don’t see him all that often. When it’s not May (practicing for VBS), it’s here or there, hit or miss. Never consistent enough to think I would see him at church or anywhere.
Then, today I went to Mass and the ideas once again started flowing through me about how we’re going to stage this and who could I get, and I thought, “Oh, man. That means I’m going to have to call Chris and see if he’ll do it.” Now something you should know about me… I’m a big chicken. I hate asking for help. I hate calling people up and saying, “Hey, could you come and do this for me?” So I was thinking about how I would do that and when, etc.
Then, miracle of miracles, who should stand up across the way but Chris! In this BRIGHT RED turtle neck (I think the Holy Spirit did that so I definitely wouldn’t miss him!). After Mass, I went over and reached out to stop him. I said, “Wow! The Holy Spirit has impeccable timing!”
And this wonderful young man reached out, took my hand, and put his arm around me, and we walked like that through the church as I told him about my idea. He said, “Of course!”
I’m not sure what I was so worried about. The Holy Spirit had it all planned out from the beginning.
So next Sunday, we will once again be staging the unstageable. Add to this challenge that we will be doing this with no real practice, with people who have never worked together, some of whom don’t even know each other.
I can’t explain it, but I think something truly miraculous is going to happen in that chapel. Mostly because so much of this is out of my hands and relying solely on the Holy Spirit.
If you have some prayers to send our way, I would really appreciate it. As usual, this is too big for me, so I’m leaning on the Holy Spirit and my wonderful prayer warriors. It makes me laugh how good He is at setting up things that require me to put it all in His hands and just trust. Every time I do, I see ever more deeply, God’s ways work, mine don’t, so stop trying to do any of it on my own and just trust Him to do it.
I can’t wait to see what He has in mind.