Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mercy in Disguise

Please forgive us for neglecting the blog for so long! There has been a lot going on...

First of all, "Mercy in Disguise" was exactly that. The Thursday dress rehearsal felt like a total disaster. The stage managers and room moms had a hard time figuring out when their classes were supposed to go onstage, since a number of the dances ran back-to-back with no "lights down" between them, and most of the dances weren't to songs with lyrics that could be easily identified. There were also a number of technical difficulties in the lighting, set, and props, which is also understandable, seeing as all of those areas were WAY more complicated than usual. On top of all that, Miriam (who taught all three Wee classes and Basic 2, AND was our Production Manager) got sick and was unable to dance.

Afterwards, as we picked up the pieces (literally), Rachael, Katherine, and I were somehow able to laugh. Earlier that day, one of our friends had prayed for a catastrophe, and her prayer had been answered. There were way too many things for us to fix in the 24 hours before the first performance. It was out of our hands. God made very, very sure that we knew ANY success could not be attributed to our own efforts.

Friday came. We tried to take care of the "big" issues. I talked to the head sound and lights guy to straighten out some confusion, and sent out some information about which dance was which. Miriam met with the stage managers and went through the whole production, addressing many issues. Rachael showed the set people where all the pieces were stored when offstage (one of the problems on Thursday was that the set movers couldn't find the stuff they were supposed to move), and personally helped out the props crew, since they literally had their hands full.

So much more happened that I don't even know about. Without us even asking, people stepped up and took care of issues that had arisen the previous evening.

Two of the room moms wired themselves with walkie-talkies and headsets to communicate between the backstage area and the dressing rooms. Two other room moms took it upon themselves to keep track of which dance was going on and notify the other room moms when they were supposed to take their girls backstage. Our awesome stage managers annotated their line-up sheets with descriptions of each class's costume, so that they could identify the girls better. The head sound and lights guy worked out a system that ran much more smoothly.

Everywhere we looked, people found ways to help and stepped into the gaps. And what was even more amazing, I had peace. At the time, I couldn't see most of the things that were coming together. In fact, I had the final test for a dual-enrollment English class that afternoon. Normally I would have been pulling my hair out, stressed and irritable and ready to wring someone's neck. But not that day. I was nervous for a little while, and my adrenaline was definitely up, but by the afternoon I wasn't worried at all. In fact, I was excited.

The dancers showed up at the church. The audience started arriving. The opening slideshow played. The lights went down. All the teachers filed onstage, together with four of our guy dancers, for the first dance: "Bring It On," by Steven Curtis Chapman, choreographed for us by Celeste Wickware from Huntsville.

We waited onstage in the dark, posed in various postures of discouragement, fear, and sadness. The song was strikingly appropriate.

"I didn't go looking for trouble
And I'm not gonna fight needlessly
But I'm not gonna hide in a bubble
If trouble comes for me.

I can feel my heart beating faster.
I can tell something's coming down.
But if it's gonna make me grow stronger...
Then bring it on!

Let the lightning flash,
Let the thunder roll,
Let the storm winds blow;
Bring it on! 

Let me be made weak
So I'll know the strength
Of the One who's strong;
Bring it on!"

For me, at least, that dance was exhilarating to perform. I literally got goose bumps near the end, when we all punched our fists in the air and stared straight into the audience. Here we were, all the teachers onstage at once, at the beginning of the first performance. All we really knew was that the dress rehearsal had been a disaster. We'd done our best, but we were out of time. This was it. Whatever happened now, good or bad, was in God's hands. Here we go, I thought. Bring it on. And, God, You better show up.

"I don't want to sound like some hero
'Cause it's God alone that my hope is in.
But I'm not gonna run from the very things
That will drive me closer to Him!
So bring it on!"

The dances started rolling. The first several were a blur, as all of my dances were early in the performance and we had several quick costume changes. But the craziness at the beginning left most of the teachers free to help out backstage during the rest of the presentation, which was a very good thing! 

At the intermission, people told us, "It's running so smoothly!" SO many things fell into place and just worked. There were glitches, sure. But there was a vast improvement from the night before. When we stood up at the end to give our closing comments, we all knew that God did it! We were absolutely certain that it wasn't us. And that was success. 

We're called "The King's Praise Ballet," but it's so easy to try to take the praise for ourselves. All the little details that we'd worked so hard on for the past months... from costumes to choreography, from props to printing, and from lineups to light cues... we would have been tempted to say, "Look what I did!" if everything had gone smoothly.

But no... God gave us a rocky dress rehearsal to remind us that we can't control anything. Problems came up that we'd never anticipated, and once we were sure that we couldn't fix them, God did. He was glorified in our weakness. The story of Joseph was told, emphasizing the greatness of a sovereign God who works bad things out for good, and we learned the same lesson in the process. 

Every trial, every technical difficulty, every logistical issue, and every frustration served as an opportunity for God to show up. Every single one of those problems truly was a "Mercy in Disguise." Glory to God! Great things HE has done!