The Easter Pageant is finished and while I'm happy to have some free time, I must admit I feel somewhat sad it's over. We grumbled and laughed together, but we also encouraged each other and pulled together as a team to make this happen. I think it's safe to say everyone wanted to do the best job possible. And as wonderful as this was, there was something even better. For me, it was impossible to push Jesus aside. He was on the forefront of my mind because I was singing about Him, and watching each night the re-enactment of His life, death, and glorious resurrection. I liked where He was last week and I want Him to stay the main focus of my attention and affection.
This pageant also provided an unexpected lesson for me. One I hope never to forget. If you know me, you know I suffer from stage fright. People are always surprised to hear it, but it's true. In part, I think it's because I know my vocal limitations, and then there's the desire to do things perfectly. And because of my limited abilities and my many allergies, I can never be sure how anything I sing is going to actually turn out.
This year when Dave gave us the Easter CD, I listened to it and sighed a breath of relief because I didn't really think anything we would be singing was right for me. I figured since I'd had a solo in the Christmas program and nothing seemed right, this was a perfect time to let someone else have the opportunity to sing a solo. I don't want to be a solo hog. I felt good with my decision and was sure it was made for all the right reasons.
And then, the message from Dave arrived in my inbox. "Have you thought about which song you'd like to sing?" I quickly responded I thought I'd give someone else the opportunity this time. There was no reply from Dave. With no reply I reviewed the CD again and determined if I were to sing anything it would either be All Is Well or Carry Him Gently. So, I sent Dave a second message, which stated what I thought I could sing, but again I emphasized I really was good with letting someone else sing a solo this time. Still no answer from Dave.
I found out the next night after choir practice Dave's computer had crashed and he hadn't gotten either message. I told him what the first message said, and he laughed his "this isn't going to fly" laugh and asked what the second message said. I told him. He said one of the teens would be singng All Is Well, which made perfect sense to me because it sounded like a young voice on the CD. (Allie did a great job with it too.) So, I said Carry Him Gently. Dave sang the first line in his best falsetto and said something like okay, Mary's song. And that was it. I left not knowing if I was to sing the song or not, but I began to practice.
A few weeks later it was official, and so I really began to practice. It wasn't a complicated song, but as I worked on it, I couldn't get the words right. I kept singing the right words, but at the wrong time. And, then I got the horrible respiratory infection and couldn't sing at all for about a week. In my mind, I kept hearing this: "You were supposed to sit this one out. Someone else should have gotten the chance. You let Dave's email persuade you because you really want the limelight. You're not doing this because you feel the Lord wants you too. You're doing it for you." And then I would agree with these internal recriminations and the real doubts began. Would I be having such trouble if God really wanted me to sing? Maybe the getting sick was God's way of making everything right. I felt it was going to be a disaster.
I stressed and struggled, but I continued to practice and pray. "Please Lord, help me. Let me get well and do well. Help me say the right words at the right time." And then I learned that I was going to be front and center and Jesus was going to be placed in my lap. Now, I not only had to sing, but I had to act too. More stress, more prayer, more recrimination.
Saturday arrived and I had improved physically, but I continued to struggle with the order of the verses. As we waited backstage between scenes I ran through the song over and over. And the dreaded moment arrived and I nervously took my place front and center at the foot of the cross and watched expectantly as they lowered Marty (our Jesus) from the cross. (I worried so for him each time they took him down.) I was nervous and it was very intimidating to think I was about to sing to this man with such a beautiful voice, who was such a gifted singer. But here came Marty into my lap. The music began and I, as Mary, began to sing to my crucified son. The dread and nervousness was gone. I felt calmer than I ever have. I believe, of course, it was the real Jesus who helped me through, but I also must admit Marty did too. He lay there calmly and peacefully and I felt peace.
The other performances felt exactly like that one even though I said the right words at the wrong time during performance two and my voice nearly cracked in performance three. I never stopped feeling secure and safe.
So, finally I get to the lesson I alluded to earlier. No matter what is happening or what happens, if you just sing to Jesus, you'll feel the peace only He can give. He doesn't expect perfection. He only wants you to love Him just the way you are. We can always trust He will have our back. He's there for us when we can't make it on our own.
Was I really supposed to sing? I don't know. It was a wonderful experience and I am grateful for it. It was a privilege to be a part of the show; it was a greater privilege to sing Mary's song; but the greatest privilege was to sing to Jesus and not worry about the audience or how it would turn out. Jesus liked it out of order just as much as in the right order and that's all that really matters.