For the past several months, our homeschool drama group has been working on the musical Pilgrim, which is an adaptation of the book Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. For those who may not have read this book, it is the story of “the man” who realizes the burden of his sin and begins a journey (at the impetus of the King) which leads him on the path, first to the Cross and eventually to the Celestial City. The path is sometimes full of joy and sometimes full of struggle, but the man, who is called Christian, comes to realize that the King is always with him as he travels. I read the book in my younger years and plan to read it again this summer with my kids, but even knowing the basic premise (I can’t remember all the details) I wasn’t prepared for how powerfully I would be moved as I watched these kids perform.
This production has been several years in the making – since our drama director found the play and has been waiting for her daughter to be old enough to play Christian. I have no doubt that God has been, in her words, staying her hand, until our group gained the needed maturity to tackle such a huge project. We have never done a musical and the majority of our soloists had never sung a solo in public. Most of them were sure that they absolutely COULD NOT sing in public, but they did and it was beautiful.
God reminded me of many things as we prepared for and performed this play. From the very first time I watched the DVD of the original performance and then even more as I read the script, I began to see so many parallels to my own journey. Even my kids began to notice things and would often mention how some detail of life resembled the play. Then, as I watched Isabela (and her Mama) tackle the role of Christian and face the many trials along the way (both figurative and literal), it became even more clear that God was in the timing of this. These kids (and their directors) were not just learning lines and blocking, we were learning the Truth of the Presence of God in every situation. The kids faced the trials of parts outside of their comfort zones and the adults faced details of sets and sound systems (among other things) that seemed impossible to work out. Everyone dealt with everyday life that seemed to crowd into (or crowd out) the time needed to prepare for the play. But, we persevered and the play came together; as a result, we had the opportunity to see God bless our efforts.
I have been working through my emotions surrounding the play since our final scheduled performance this past Saturday and I want to record some of the things I would like for the cast to know about what they have just experienced. These are the things that I want my own children to take away from this experience and the things that I want to remember as well.
This was more than just a play. I think our students know that. I have been amazed as I have watched the kids grow through this production, not just as performers, but as people. I pray that the truth of this play has seeped into their very being and that they will never be the same. Each one of our drama kids may have been to the Cross before this play started, but we all need to be reminded that the King is always with us and that He cares about every moment of our lives. I hope that they never forget that a Christian can leave the path, but cannot step outside of the King’s care for His children.
Any play has the potential to teach us something, but this one goes much deeper. These children – many of whom are actually young adults – had the opportunity to step on to a stage and share the Gospel. In order to do this, each one had to “become” a character. Some of those characters “fit” the individual. Some didn’t. Many of them had to go back and forth between being good guys and bad guys. Some kids had lots of lines, some had only a few. But none of that matters. I want these kids to know that it makes no difference what part they played, the number of lines they spoke, or even the amount of talent they have for acting. Every one of those students participated in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this play. Even those playing the “bad guys” set in motion a time when Christian learned something more from the King.
And that is why this play was so very moving to me. God using the good and the bad to show us HIS plan is a very real part of life. As Christians, we often struggle to see the good in a situation that holds only grief and despair for us, but thankfully, God sees the bigger picture and He isn’t going to leave us in our despair. Often, it is in our lowest moments - in the times of our greatest trials when our King uses the people around us to speak to our deepest needs and to point us to Him. One of my favorite parts of the play is the Castle of Doubt scene (where Christian and Hopeful have left the path looking for an easier way and learn the hard way that the story isn’t about them). I have been there and I am so thankful for the people who have filled the role of Hopeful in my life. We all need to be reminded occasionally that this life isn’t about us. This isn’t your story or my story, it is HIS story and that is infinitely better.
I realize that this most of this won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the play or read the book – so go do it! Read the book that is.
I know that this is already long, but I can’t help but end with a few pictures of the play.
Lora in her role as Obstinate … she plays a pretty good bad guy.
James as Evangelist – my favorite of my kid’s roles.
Lora was our choreographer (she took the original dances and turned them into something our less experienced dancers could actually do). I think she learned that she would rather dance than choreograph.
The whole crew at Vanity Fair