Run The Race

Sitting in church on Sunday, I wrote the date on my notes, and my memory immediately jumped back six years. I am fifteen again, dressing for a play on another April 4th.

*   *   *   *   *

We were at a small country church then, and the girls put their costumes on in the pastor’s office upstairs.  I was supposed to be pregnant, so my mom had to help me into the “belly” we had rigged up.  It looked pretty convincing once my robe was on.  Mom had made a blue robe and head scarf for me because none of the other costumes were long enough for all 5’8″ of me.  Then it was time for make up.

Some of the other girls were putting some make up on too, to look a little older.  One girl was playing Rahab, so she needed to look like a harlot; she definitely couldn’t have pulled that off without the make up, she’s too sweet.  Me, I needed to look very old.

Mom had experimented a little in the week before the performance.  We used baby powder to whiten my face, then grayish eye shadow to create some crow’s feet.  To top it off, I slid my glasses a little down my nose.  Not that they wore glasses in Bible times, but I figured since I had to wear them I might as well use them to help create the old look.

The play was about a young girl named Jan.  She is staying home from church because she didn’t feel well (or amiable).  She grudgingly reads a couple of verses in Hebrews 12 before giving up on ever understanding and going to sleep.  Then two angels wake her up and tell her to put on a pair of red shoes they’ve brought her and start running.  To her question of where she is going, they respond that she will know when she gets there, just to stay on the path and run.  Putting on the shoes and picking up her backpack, Jan the pilgrim follows their instructions.

She runs into Cain and Abel as they sacrifice to God, then Enoch as he is about to be taken up to God (and is she ever surprised to turn around and find him completely gone!).  Next she meets Noah and his wife, played by 3G and a friend of mine, who are watching the animals board the ark.  She bewilders them by telling them about a rainstorm she saw “just last week” and mentioning that she remembers hearing about them in Sunday School.

In the next scene, Jan comes upon a group of women, and asks one of them what is going on.  The girl replies that Sarah is getting ready to have a baby, and Jan is eager to help out.  Imagine her surprise when she sees that the pregnant woman is ninety years old!  I still laugh at the face she made at me.  Of course, I react as any pregnant old lady would, trading insult for insult and commenting on the “camel’s hump” she wears and on her lack of toes.  The servants quickly intervene and help me off to my tent while they detain Jan outside.   I interrupt their conversation a couple of times with some painful screams, and Isaac arrives in time for Jan to see him before she leaves.  Hebrew women are quick at delivery you know… especially when the baby doll is waiting on the organ seat!

Jan travels onward, till she finds the ground shaking beneath her.  [We told her to imagine she was stomping on ants, and she did a great job at it!]  Rahab pulls her within her house just in time to save her life.  After leaving Jericho, Jan encounters Ruth, who tells her about her wonderful husband-to-be.  Jan, of course, asks if Boaz has a brother, which he doesn’t, but Ruth assures Jan that God will provide her a husband and all other things that she needs.

Weary of running, Jan finally falls to the ground, weeping.  She feels as if she cannot run anymore.  Then each of the characters she has just met comes up to her and points her forward, encouraging her not to give up, for the end of the race is in sight.  Jan’s tears are drying as Jesus takes the stage, calling on Jan to look to him, the author and finisher of her faith, put away the weight she carries (her backpack which she’s been carrying all this way), and come to him. 

In the final scene, Jan’s mother has returned from church and is waking her up.  Jan excitedly begins to tell her all about her dream and the people she met.  Her mother is happy that the grumpy girl of the morning is gone.  She suggests that it’s time for lunch, and Jan quickly hops up off the couch where she has been napping.  Her mother stops her, though, and asks, “Jan, whose red sneakers are these?”  Jan looks down at the shoes she is still wearing, then smiles a sheepish, wondering smile at the audience . . . as the curtain falls.

*   *   *   *   *

Sister did a wonderful job as Jan, and I had plenty of fun pretending to be 90 years old.  I have to laugh at myself, because as I went to take off my costume, I passed two girls who were new at the church, and they gave me odd looks when I smiled at them.  As soon as I saw myself in the mirror, however, I realized why.  I had forgotten how old I looked! 

Participating in that play was a great way to internalize the message of Hebrews 12:1-2.  You know how they say that the surest way to learn something is to teach it?  Well, I think acting it out works almost as well! 

So, are you running with a load on your back, weary of the road you travel?  Or are you looking unto Jesus?

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