My son Jonathan has a talent for drama. The stage kind (as opposed to the angsty teenage/girlfriend/school/car/job kind).
Not that his relationship with the stage is without hairy moments. Take his last competition for example. He comes home at dinner time from his after-school activities and announces he has to leave at 6:00 am the next morning for a speech tournament.
I give him that thanks-for-informing-me-of-your-plans look you give to independent seventeen-year-olds. “Tomorrow? I didn’t even know about this tournament.”
He shrugs. “Neither did I. Just got the script today.”
“And you’re performing it tomorrow?”
“8:00 am. It’ll be fine.”
All righty then. This totally explains why I keep having nightmares where I’m about to go onstage in front of a huge audience, and I have no idea what my lines are. I’m clearly suffering some sort of vicarious terror to compensate for Jonathan’s lack thereof. I probably ought to look into that because I bet it’s not normal.
Jonathan comes home from the tournament at 10:00 pm the next night.
With a trophy.
My mouth hangs open.
He hands me the shiny statue. “I got first place.”
“I see that. Nice job.”
“Well, there was a secret to it.”
What? He pulled an all-nighter? Wrote his words on his shirt sleeves? Had someone wave giant flashcards from the back row?
Jonathan grins. “My teacher knows I’m willing to go up there and do anything. I don’t care how I look, you know?”
Umm…Doesn’t explain trophy.
“He gave me this really funny piece about a guy who starts yelling because he can’t find his blue tie. There’s this point maybe a minute and a half into it where the audience hates you.”
Not. Following. Secret.
“You have to stick with it though. You have to go full throttle and push through where they hate you, and then they’re glad you did because it’s so worth it. It’s SO funny. But you can’t show any weakness. You can’t hesitate even the slightest bit or you’ll crash and burn.”
He talks like a stunt driver flooring it to make a jump. I have this momentary urge to check if our minivan is still in one piece.
“You have to be all in. That’s the only way this scene can take first place.” Jonathan shrugs and walks off like it’s no big deal.
In that moment I have a brand new picture of what the apostle Paul means when he says we should run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24). It’s about total commitment.
Only Paul isn’t talking about a drama sketch. He’s talking about full throttle devotion to God.
Where we don’t care how we look. Where we’re all in, pushing through everything that stands in our way, and it doesn’t matter that people might hurl tomatoes at us.
Because they probably will.
But we persevere because we know the prize is worth it.
My son worked hard and came home with a well-deserved, shiny trophy, which is cool and all. But eventually it will sit forgotten and dusty on a shelf until it someday lands in a box of memorabilia.
But God’s prize doesn’t work that way. He gives us an eternal gift that can never fade, tarnish, or wear out. He gives us himself.
For that…I’m all in.