As the cast stood in the line preparing to enter the sanctuary, I could almost feel myself getting younger and the space getting narrower. Was it getting darker or was it just me? Where did that spotlight come from? Why am I so warm? I guess that’s what happens when you time travel and that was what I was doing—at least in my mind. I was going back to 1983 and I was on stage with my younger brother getting ready to sing in a Black History show. We were singing a song entitled “Stars Don’t Carry Money”. My heart is beating rapidly. I am terrified and my little brother is ecstatic. He loves singing. I love reading. Songs have words and books have words, but that’s where our similarities end in this regard.
“Now we have a real treat,” said the MC. “Next on stage we’ll have the two sons of our friend, Josie, The Queen of Rhymes. I’m sure we’ll see that talent runs in the family.”
The music begins to play, my brother begins to sing, my mouth opens and no words come out. Instead I start cracking up laughing. I am losing it. I start crying and laughing at the same time as my brother continues singing like he was getting paid to do it. I can’t take it anymore. The crowd is laughing too—not with me, but at me. I’m almost at the tipping point. I look out to see my mom. The thought that I just embarrassed my family in front of a crowd who knows my mother as a performer is too much. I want to disappear; so I do. I catch a glimpse of the front door. I set my sights on it and I run. When I get outside I start praying that I never get in that situation again. My brother is the singer. I read.
I was thinking about this as we prepared to perform Dr. Nuwine’s Traveling Show for the congregation. No one knew how big of a deal this was for me. If I could make it through my small solo part, it would be the proof of a healing that was 33 years in the making. Several times in the past I had made some attempts to overcome that experience of my 7 year old self. And in some ways I had made a lot of progress. But I knew if I could do this, then that experience would have come full circle. I’d know I was restored.
I won’t go into all of the reservations I had about doing this show. Nor will I go too far into the way that I feel God worked it out that I ended up in the show and singing a little solo no less. I just want to say that through the musical God once again showed me how far I’ve been carried. The support of Deborah, Kajsa, Liesl, and the rest of cast was very instrumental in getting me up there. And the kids… I’m so proud of them. And Eli in the hoop… Everyone really put themselves out there. And the church held us as we did so. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we’re here together.
1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” I doubt anyone except my wife and daughter could imagine how nervous I was about not being able to deliver my lines when it came down to the moment. I can’t even stick to my own sermons. People couldn’t tell that I was praying my way up the stairs to sing and swatting away images of me running off stage as I sang. My part was only a few seconds to everyone else, but it was 33 years for me. And then like that, it was finished.
This is the goodness of God. When we surrender our fears to the God of Love, we become whole in the areas where we may feel broken. But we must step out on faith. It doesn’t always mean that the shadows or negative voices will go away before we step out, but rather we step out with God and the support of those God gives us and in time, those shadows will flee in the presence of Love’s Light. That’s what the scriptures teach us. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
I kept reminding myself of this as contrary thoughts arose. The above scripture and Jeremiah 29:11, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope,” are two of my go to scriptures when I feel myself giving too much energy to thoughts that are not going “love-ward” (toward love). I share this with you all, because maybe there’s some little voice that reminds you of where you’ve failed in the past and perhaps despite your best efforts, you might feel like you haven’t made progress. Well, I’m here to tell you that only God knows what is being accomplished in you. If your desire is to be made whole, you are being made whole. You might not know how it is happening or how the evidence will make itself known. But it is happening.
I wasn’t going to know that I was restored until I was on the other end of that song. I had to show up to see what God had done. Likewise, your job is to show up. That’s it. Show up and see. That’s the faith journey.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” – Hebrews 11:1-3