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June 2018

Being Strong When You Feel Weak

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Being Strong When You Feel Weak

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that I can see God the clearest when I’m on stage. Just a few weeks ago, Enspire performed The Journey: The Love of the Guardian at the Keene Camp Meeting, and I had the honor to be able to act in it. And, just like he likes to do, God showed up in a big way.

I know there are plenty of examples of God blessing those performances, and if you asked any other member of the cast and crew they would have their own stories to tell you, too. Here is mine.

We had a day long practice on Monday of performance week, then we had Tuesday off, then we would be back at it all day on Wednesday for the first act that night. I woke up Tuesday morning with a horribly scratchy throat. Attributing it to all the screaming and constant talking I had to do the day before, I didn’t think much of it. I drank some tea and ate some cough drops. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Big deal. At least, for me.

By Wednesday morning, the day of the first performance, my throat was still causing me a lot of pain, and it was even getting worse. I don’t know for sure, but my theory is that something in the Texas air was giving me weird allergies (I live in Michigan, so I’m not used to whatever was in the air). My throat was hurting horribly, but I didn’t feel sick, I wasn’t losing my voice, and I didn’t really have congestion. It just hurt to talk.

So, I prayed and prayed, as one does when you’re not feeling well and you have to go on stage and project in mere hours. I prayed for God to take the pain away, even if it was just during that one hour of performance. Meanwhile I kept popping garlic cloves like they were candy, drinking tea, and trying super weird concoctions that my Journey family suggested. I am now an expert on natural cold remedies.

And, wouldn’t you know it, about half an hour before the performance, I started feeling better. I praised God because he was faithful. My scratchy throat didn’t get in the way of his message.

Then, after the performance the pain came back full force.

It was like this the entire week. I would be borderline miserable throughout the day, taking Tylenol like nobody’s business and driving Coker crazy by “saving my voice” instead of projecting during practice. All the while I was praying again and again for God to give me my voice for the performance. Then, half an hour before the performance, all the way through about half an hour after the performance, I would feel great! Then, the pain would return and the process started all over again.

But God got me through every single performance, and I would do it all over again even if it had to be the same way.

There are two main things that I learned during that week of Love of the Guardian. First, God showed up when I asked him to and when I did my part. I’m not saying God wouldn’t have helped me out even if I hadn’t asked him, but I’m a firm believer that prayer allows God to work in ways unprecedented. I also think the results might have been different if I hadn’t done everything in my power to keep my voice healthy. I did what I could and let God do the rest. And he went above and beyond what I ever imagined.

Second, God gave me what I needed, not what I wanted. Around the third night of this weird cycle, the thought occurred to me that, since God was clearly able to help my throat out during the performance, he would have been able to just take away the pain entirely. But, then, where would the faith be in that? If my sore throat had gone away the first night and not returned, would I have even thought to rely so heavily on God during the performance? Probably not as much as I ended up doing. I wanted to just feel great the whole time. I needed a constant reminder that I can’t actually do anything on my own.

After the last performance, my voice completely shot out, laryngitis style, and I sounded pretty squeaky for another week, but I didn’t care. I just kept thinking of 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

Stephanie Wilczynski has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. She is pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Andrews University.

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FIFA and Faithfulness

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FIFA and Faithfulness

The World Cup fever is on and many are spending their days living through high and low emotional moments. Each country has a loyal fanbase that experiences an array of emotions throughout the game. But as bystanders, no one feels the stress and pressure of the game as the actual players.

Each team prides itself with performing at the highest level and advancing the furthest it can, in order to please their countries and fans. Games happen each day, and with each game we have a winner and a loser. Both teams will look back at the game and see what was done right and what could’ve been done better. For many who are on the losing side of a game, questions and anxiety remain because of the missed chances and failed opportunities that happened during the game.

The beauty of sports is that there are chances to right the wrongs and perform better, in the next match/game. However, the down side of the World Cup is that each team only has a few opportunities for second chances, which makes each game incredibly important, especially once the tournament goes into single elimination.

For a soccer player, the pressure to be perfect and play at one's best is felt in every game, whether when playing in the playground or on the world stage. In a similar way, we can say that the pressure to “perform” and “be perfect” is felt by many today in their daily lives. Whether that is at work - being the best employee and team member, or at home - being the best mom or husband, or in school - being the best student or teacher.

Daily we strive to be the best and to seize the opportunities that we are given. But let’s be honest, how successful are we? Especially when we try to live up to the worlds standard of perfection, while adding our Christian duty and responsibility.

It can seem insurmountable and impossible to accomplish, especially when we think of Gods ever-presence among us and watching our every move - talk about pressure to perform!

Sadly, we mistake our role and find ourselves attempting to do everything ourselves, attempting to be perfect and amazing so that God can look down and smile with affirmation at our efforts. But the truth is that we of our own effort can’t be perfect, according to God’s standard, and we consistently fail when relying on our own strength and endurance (see Rom 3).

We need more. We need help.

As happens with multiple teams in the World Cup, star players - incredibly talented and skilled- cannot by themselves win the tournament. They desperately need a team and support. So in the same way, we desperately need of Gods help, daily. This is why what Lamentations 3:22-23 says is so crucial for us to understand! “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

God is great in faithfulness, meaning that He is faithful always, even when we are not perfect and are found faithless. Not only that but every single day, we are offered another opportunity, a second chance, to do what God has called us to do, with His strength and guidance. His love never ceases and His mercies never come to an end. With all the pressure of the world around us, we can trust that succeed or fail, God is on our side. And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31).

 

Sebastian Lopez has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2010. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.

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Family of Strangers

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Family of Strangers

For the past two years, Enspire has had the opportunity to minister to the community during Keene Camp meeting through performing the Journey plays. Cast and crew members come in from all over the country like Michigan, New York, South Texas, and multiple parts of North Texas, to participate in this ministry. I was blessed to have a camp friend accompany me on the 8 hour drive from Mcallen to Keene. Although we've known each other for years, we never took the time to get to know each other one on one. As we spent the first hour talking nonstop on how excited we were to see all our friends again, I began to ponder, "Why do I feel so connected to her even though we have never been alone until now?" We got to talking about how after all the time that has passed without us communicating together, we still feel a strong connection to each other. The love, trust, and respect we have for each other is strong and unbreakable. It's a connection that I not only felt with her, but with every member of the Enspire group. 

I met new cast and crew members that week, most who were still in high school and others that were about to graduate in a few days. Instantly, I felt bonded to them. As we grew even closer, praying with one another, mentoring each other, helping with lines or even treating each other to snacks, our bond grew. How could I love someone I barely met? Talking with God is so personal and intimate and yet there we were, praying with each other and opening our hearts to complete strangers in such a short amount of time. During our practices, the church filled with laughter and at times with tears. Before our last performance, we came together to practice one last time. We sat together in a circle and prayed earnestly for each other. With tears in our eyes, we knew our time together was coming to an end in a few short hours. Looking around, I saw the many sacrifices that each one of us had made to be there at that very moment. Some took time off of work. Others saved money to purchase a flight just for those few days. Two drove across the country. One drove for hours just to make it to practice daily. Why would this group of young adults come together, open their hearts to each other, and give their all for a "play"?

My friend Caro said something to me during that car ride that continues to stay in the front of my mind. The reason we all have become so close is because God is our base, our center of focus. Even though we come from different backgrounds, even though we are of different ages and have varied walks of life and interests, we are bonded through our love for Christ. Nothing else matters. What we sacrificed to make this ministry happen is nothing compared to the rewards that Christ has given us; the gifts of friendship and unconditional love for each other. 

Make God your foundation. What could be stronger that the creator of the heavens and the earth? Maybe acting isn't your gift. Maybe it's accounting or writing stories. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," Colossians 3:17. What are you waiting for? He's ready to create stability in your life. Will you allow him to bless you?

 

Alejandra Rodriguez Clark is an elementary school teacher and currently resides in McAllen, Texas.

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