Monday, August 24, 2009

The Performer

When I was in high school, I enacted a monologue from a play that was written about Anne Boleyn. Anne had been unable to give Henry VIII a male heir, so he found a way to dispose of her. The scene I enacted finds Anne awaiting her execution...it depicts the thoughts of a woman sentenced to death, but not just a woman, a mother. Yes, she had produced a child. Her crime was that the child was female rather than male. She mourns leaving her child behind, mourns that her child must face the world without her.

The monologue was dramatic. I practiced my lines. I memorized them, but then I went past memorization....I began to think as Anne, what she felt, how she hurt and mourned. I empathized with her so deeply that in saying the lines, I became Anne.

At a national competition, I performed Anne's monologue. I poured my empathetic heart into the lines. I had no vision of winning the competition, after all, my piece was a monologue while other competitors entered pieces of complicated and intricate dialogue. Nevertheless, I had thrilled in being Anne. As I stood on that stage, I was Anne Boleyn.

The competition had taken place in the morning and awards would be presented in the evening, so my afternoon was free to take in other performances. As I was walking to a particular presentation, I passed by one of my judges. She looked at me, with a sparkle in her eye, and said, "Hello, Anne". My heart somersaulted within me. In that moment it made no difference to me if I won or lost the competition, my purpose had been realized: Anne's story was lived through me to such an extent that when my judge looked at me she did not see Crysta, she saw Anne Boleyn.

Today, as I was reading James 1, this memory came rushing back to me. James 1:22-23 says, ....receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. I looked up the word doers in the Greek and found that it is the word poietes which means poet or performer. I rolled this thought over and over in my mind. I know that a root of this same word is found in Ephesians 2:10 which says that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. The word workmanship is from the same root word as doers. Workmanship is from the Greek word poiema meaning a product or a thing that is made.

My life is a play, or poem, of God. God has written the lines of the play, and He desires for me to beautifully express the lines of truth that He has written for me. In order to express these lines of truth, I must know the lines of truth, I must memorize the lines of truth...but I need to go past memorization and begin to think these lines of truth. These lines are to be breathed and eaten, they are to become my foundation and my only reality. Each minute of each day, I must stand on truth. To stand on truth requires that I fill my mind with God's lines and allow His lines to replace my default lines. These are not lines of improvisation or lines of my own interpretation, these lines require complete adherence.

Yet God is the Master Playwrite, for He does not require that I find it within myself to perform these lines. No, for anything that He has written, He has arranged a way of execution. Anything that He requires, He supplies. He makes no requirement without also making provision for the requirement. He knows that I am not capable of performing these lines. But the lines were not written for me to perform them, they were written that I would surrender to them. The lines of truth, the lines of God's Word, demand surrender. They are to be accepted as the only truth, the only reality.

Such surrender will mean that I no longer live to quote my own lines. Those error-filled lines have been transformed. Christ, the very Word of the play, has taken command of the sentence structure and has brought the story to life. This was the vision of the Master Playwrite, this story was written with one Performer in mind, no other could enact these truth-filled lines.

And thus the purpose of my play is realized: for as my Judge, peer jury, and a varying gallery of onlookers watch this play, they will not see Crysta, they will see only Christ.


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