Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Your Strength and Courage

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Hi, this is Marilyn. I’m writing this on the first weekend of June. For the past four years, the first weekend of June has, for me, meant dancing in the annual show put on by the studio where I take tap classes. This show is much more than a recital--it's a full stage production with fancy, glittery costumes, lots of makeup, and big hairdos.

I start every new year of tap classes in July, when we learn new steps and techniques. And then we break for Christmas for two weeks. When we come back in January, we begin learning the numbers that we’ll be dancing in the June show. We learn a few measures of 8 at a time. We practice and practice. We think we’ll never learn the 3-minute dance by June, but we do. In May we practice on a larger floor and use no mirrors so that we won't rely on them. Then, the week before the show we begin dancing on the stage so that we know where to stand and move. By that time we've practiced and practiced until our steps are almost reflexive.

You might think after all that practice and preparation, by the day of the first show, that I would be able to just step out on stage and float through my dance. You might think so. But that isn’t what happens. A week before the show, my stomach starts churning, and whenever I think of being onstage, the butterflies flutter and my knees shake. I think about all the horrible, embarrassing things that can happen onstage. (I’m a writer, so my imagination goes wild. In fact, for real last year my pants fell down during one of my dances.) By dress rehearsal on Friday night, I’ve convinced myself that I can’t go out there onstage. I just can't.

So, as I stand in the wings with the other dancers, waiting for our music cue to start--that’s when I realize I have no control. That’s when I know I’ve run out of my own abilities for staying strong and courageous. I'm just the opposite as I stand in the wings, shaking and quaking and sure that the most horrible thing is going to happen.

That's when I remember to say a prayer, when things are at their lowest, when I feel like I need God the most. I have to go out on that stage, but I have no courage or strength to do so. The apostle Paul wrote that Christ is most powerful when we are most weak, when we’ve run out of all our ideas and all our strength to fix what's wrong. He does his best work when we’re standing in the wings shaking and quaking, about to step onstage, and facing the most horrible things that can happen. That's when I remember to pray, “Be my courage. Be my strength.” It’s a prayer only as long as a breath, but prayers don’t have to be long to be heard.

Then I know that it’s out of my hands and in his. The music starts, and I step out onstage. I feel the courage and the strength to take those first steps. And I know that even if the worst thing I could possibly imagine happens, even if my pants fall down again, I'll be okay. One day I'll even laugh about it--like I am right now!

May God bless you!

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