Comedy Act

(Part 1)

Life is not a Comedy Act, or is it?

Recently, I thought we were going to see a friend do a comedy act. We have seen her onstage before, and it was comedy, but this was different…very different, and I was glad. Why? Because on that day I was thinking about life, and whether it was a “funny” sort of day, and it didn’t seem to be a good day for comedy. I wondered about going from sitting at the bedside of a friend in the ICU one day, to attending a comedy act the next day? The two things in life didn’t seem to match up. Laughing hysterically seemed to be out of place after being in the presence of such suffering.

Barbara, my friend of almost 40 years now, may be about to leave this world. I have written about her before, and she has been in very serious situations before, and God has brought her through them before, but this time, I don’t know…but do we ever? Her condition has deteriorated to ice chips and Morphine, and not much else. She did eat a Popsicle yesterday while I was out of her room. When I returned, she excitedly told me about it, and how goooood it tasted. Then…her stomach hurt, and she felt nauseous, and the nurse got her big plastic syringe, hooked it up to the tube that is constantly emptying her stomach of anything that gathers there, and she withdrew the orange popsicle right before our eyes, at a much faster rate than just the tube would have. It’s an intriguing thing to witness, and also very sad when your insides can’t even withstand one little Popsicle.

But, just as I was supporting my friend yesterday at the hospital, attending this “comedy act” today was in support of another friend, so Jim and I went to see it, and it was amazing!! A comedy act it was not!! A “One Woman Show” it was! Our friend Faith is a most talented actress, singer and comedian, and when all three are combined in her show, we watched the joys and sorrows of life played out before our very eyes. I was so thankful we had gone to watch our very talented friend perform. I would have missed out on so much had I decided to stay home because life is very serious right now for another friend. Life is serious, but isn’t it always, really? We all have those serious times in life, and sometimes even in those times, we still laugh, we usually cry, and we walk through them as best we can with God, hopefully, as our strength.

Faith portrayed life on stage in her “One Woman Show” in a way that I have never seen it done before. Through story, song, laughter, and dance, she drew a picture of the toughest things of life, and the funniest things of life, and the sweetest things of life, and just life in general. She told stories from her youngest childhood, of her dating years, of her marriage, and her relationships, and many other things. There were tears along the way, there was laughter, there were serious moments when we wondered if we should even “go there”—things of life that can make us very uncomfortable—but then she would bring us back out of that dark place and show us how to move through it and into a future that can be bright. Faith’s faith was portrayed, not in a preachy way, or an offensive way, but in a real way, showing us how we can call out to God when life has beat us up, or hurt us deeply, or blessed us greatly.

Life…the highs and the lows, and everything in between. I didn’t know if it was a day for comedy, but it was a day to share life. That is what we do when we sit and watch a friend sleeping in their hospital bed. That is what we do when watch a friend perform on stage—the two can meet somewhere in the middle because God is the God of all things, and He is with us in the laughter and in the tears.

It was interesting as we were getting ready to go to the show, I was praying for Faith that morning, and I began to wonder, what if she isn’t feeling funny today?…still thinking I was going to a comedy show. I even voiced that to Jim as we sat and waited for Faith to begin her show. We all have those tough days, when life is getting us down, or we just feel down for some unknown reason. And what if we had to go out and perform anyway? And yet in writing that, we all do, don’t we? We all have to get up, and go out into our day, and make it through somehow, someway, as best we can. Some days, we just don’t really feel like doing life—because life just isn’t very funny or fun.

As clients sit in my chair in the month of January, of course the usual questions begin; it starts with, “How was your Christmas?” Yes, I say “Christmas,” not “Holidays.” So far, I haven’t been fired for it. And the response of almost all my clients is, “It was good.” I think half of them are probably stretching the truth a bit. I think Christmas is a complicated time, a time of strained relationships and untimely illnesses, and even grief. It’s when the stuff of life seems to be magnified. If you’re lonely, you’re really lonely at Christmas. If you’re missing a loved one, you really miss them at Christmas. If you’re sick, you’re really sad to be missing the gatherings and fun that goes on without you. On any normal day, these are the normal setbacks, but during the Christmas season, they can depress us that much more. We can make like it’s all a holly, jolly Christmas, but if we play it out on stage like Faith does real life in her act, it might look very different. Life is challenging, to say the least, and we need faith in God to make it through—to make it possible with an attitude of peace and joy through all the ups and downs.

Our faith is what allows us to enter the future – not with a question mark – but with an exclamation point! Faith is what allows us to declare in confidence that God is with us no matter what happens. We are certain God is for us and certain he has our best interests at heart. Rick Warren

Sitting by the bedside of a person who is walking that fine line between this world and the next, there’s no room for shallow talk, or even the avoidance of the “elephant” that is very present in the room. When I first entered my friend’s room, she opened her eyes, and one of the first things she said to me was, “I’m not doing very good…pray for me.” She and I have been here before, and she also knows that I have been at the bedside of my own son who walked that fine line, and who crossed over into God’s Heavenly presence as I stood by his bed. She knows I will not avoid the elephant in the room; I will face it head on, and bring it before God and His mighty power to bring peace into such unsettling moments in life. It was funny, because her nurse started calling me her “Guru of Love” visitor. After talking with her nurse, I found out she was not a Christian, but she brought up the word love when she saw my interaction with my friend. I smiled inwardly, knowing that the Love she spoke of was God’s—even if His name is not on the lips of the “world,” His love is!

My friend told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to fight this disease anymore. She has battled long and hard through a physical ailment that has robbed her of oxygen and strength. She can’t say much these days, but the words that she does whisper are not frivolous, they are heartfelt and purposeful. During one of her awake moments, she said, “I guess five years is really nothing.” I knew what she meant, she was talking about the years she’s been sick. I responded with, “No, they are only a tiny blip in time when compared to eternity; even though I know just this day has seemed very long.” I told her that in eternity with God, there are no tubes, no pain, no suffering, and I told her that I bet the food in Heaven is going to be fantastic!!

One of my friend’s only pleasures left in life has been eating, but now even food has been taken from her. Earlier, before she had been given her popsicle, she had been “released” to actually drink some water instead of just eating ice chips. As I put the cup to her lips and she sipped it slowly, you would have thought I was giving her liquid gold to drink. She reacted as if she had never tasted anything so good. Oh, the things we take for granted, the things we complain about in our day…if nothing else, time spent with those who are in difficult situations like this should help us see life a little differently—hopefully appreciating even the common, ordinary things we are able to do in our day. This morning as I ate my banana and drank my cup of coffee, I thought of Barbara, and I didn’t want to take such simple pleasures for granted. But, we do, we get distracted, and we start to complain. We take our eyes off the blessings God gives us every day, forgetting that we share this world with a force that is out to kill, steal and destroy us. It is tempting to dwell on the things that can drag us down.

This last week, I have been on the phone each morning with a friend, and we have been praying through Ephesians 6:10-18 before our day gets started. Why? Because, sometimes in life, we need to specifically know, focus, pray and consciously depend on God’s armor to get us through the day. My friend and I are very aware that circumstances of late may have angered the enemy, Satan. We are aware that when we are experiencing a victory through trials, God gets the glory, and Satan gets angry. This is not something to be played with, it is something to seriously pray about, and so we have. Each morning, we pray God’s Word back to God, thanking Him for the protection He gives us, praying through each piece of armor, and finishing our prayer as it says in Ephesians 6:18, by praying for other Christians too. We don’t know what we might have been spared from this week because of these ardent prayers, but we do know it has helped.

Prayer is sort of strange, because as human beings it’s hard to understand how much power it holds, how it works, and even how different God’s answers may be than what we were looking for. One thing we do know though is that we can’t go wrong with prayer. Jesus prayed, He taught us how to pray, and we should pray. Period.

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying.
As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said,
“Lord, teach us to pray…”
Luke 11:1 (NIV)

Christ's physical body underwent terrible pain and persecution.
His church body cannot expect a cozy, easy existence either.

Charles Stanley

God’s not promising us life without pain—not even Jesus experienced that—but, God is promising us that He is always with us. God knows life is not always a comedy act; it’s more like a “One Woman Show.” Most of us do have friends and family that help us through things, but when we leave this life on earth, we face God alone, everyone at his or her appointed hour. It’s a really good idea to get to know God before we get there! We should be rehearsing our “One Person Show,” as Faith rehearsed her show in the weeks and months before she starred in it!

I think my friend, Barbara, is concerned about giving up the fight, I think she feels it is wrong. I encouraged her to fight if she wants to, and if she doesn’t, then that is fine too. I told her that she won’t leave here one minute sooner than God has planned. One thing I would like to ask her though, is when she does see Jesus, would she please ask Him to come back to this earth soon so we can all join her there in Heaven! I know some of us have some seemingly unfinished business we’d like to attend to here on earth, but really, it won’t matter once we get to Heaven. Saying “good-bye” one person at a time is hard work, it is sad, it is not what any of us want to do. When Jesus comes back to take us Home, we will all leave here together with our family of believers! I don’t know what Jesus is waiting for, and as the Bible says, no one knows the exact hour of His return, but we do know that He will return, and when He does, it will be a joyous occasion for all those who have put their trust in Him!

“And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will
continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ
Jesus comes back again.” Philipians 1:6 (NLT)

“As we talk to our God and Father about you, we think of
your faithful work, your loving deeds, and your continual
anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT)

A pastor recently reminded us that when Jesus returns, every knee will bow. The question is, will we bow that knee in despair because of the judgment to come, or will we bow that knee in thankfulness for the forgiveness we have received? Now is the time to decide that question. If we’re saying, “When I see God for myself, I will decide if He is real,” that won’t work. It will be too late.

He was just a little boy,
On a week's first day.
Wandering home from Bible school,
And dawdling on the way.

He scuffed his shoes into the grass;
He even found a caterpillar.
He found a fluffy milkweed pod,
And blew out all the 'filler.'

A bird's nest in a tree overhead,
So wisely placed up so high.
Was just another wonder,
That caught his eager eye.

A neighbor watched his zig-zag course,
And hailed him from the lawn;
Asked him where he'd been that day
And what was going on.

'I've been to Bible School,'
He said and turned a piece of sod..
He picked up a wiggly worm replying,
'I've learned a lot about God.'

'M'm very fine way,' the neighbor said,
'for a boy to spend his time.'
'If you'll tell me where God is,
I'll give you a brand new dime.'

Quick as a flash the answer came!
Nor were his words faint.
'I'll give you a dollar, Mister,
If you can tell me where God ain’t.

Author Unknown

Recently a co-worker asked me about being good, and getting to Heaven that way. I told her, “We can’t get to Heaven by being good enough. It doesn’t matter if we steal one penny out of the cash drawer, or commit murder, it’s sin.” We need Jesus. If we could be good enough, Jesus’ death on the Cross was a waste. If it was about being good, we could just try our best, and some of us would make it, and some of us wouldn’t. But really, I’m thankful it doesn’t work that way, because where would the dividing line be? Just how good would we have to be? Just how bad would make us miss the mark?—and by how far? Could we be graded on a curve, so our odds would be better? It would get so confusing, and so tiring… But with Jesus, He finished the job for us. We don’t have to try to be good; He was good enough for all of us. He covered all of our sins with His blood, and that’s that. All we have to do is put our trust in that Truth, and rest in our relationship with Him, getting to know Him more each day.

The same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit. It is only when we are protected by God with the miraculous sacredness of the Holy Spirit that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved in pure uprightness until the coming of Jesus—no longer condemned in God’s sight.
Oswald Chambers

Our job is spending time with our Friend Jesus, not trying to earn brownie points with our efforts of goodness. There aren’t enough brownie points to earn our way anywhere close to Heaven’s gates, and many times when we are getting close to making the transition from this life to the next, we don’t have enough breath left in us to do much but rest anyway. So, we better not put off till tomorrow what can be accomplished today—finding our faith in the only One who can save us!!

Barbara may be going Home to Heaven soon, because we all will actually. Five days, five years, fifty years, it’s not very long compared to eternity. When I watched my friend sleep, I wondered what she was dreaming. I hoped it was something fun, I hoped she could live a life in her dreams that would take her far away from the misery she is awakening to each day right now. So I asked her if she was dreaming, but she just shook her head, saying she didn’t remember any dreams. My hopes were dashed, but only for a moment, because when she is finished with this suffering, and…

When it is cold on earth, we can take comfort in knowing that our loved ones are in the warm arms of God. We don't like to say good-bye to those whom we love. It is right for us to weep, but there is no need for us to despair. They had pain here. They have no pain there. They struggled here. They have no struggles there. You and I might wonder why God took them home. But they don't. They understand. They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.
Max Lucado

I pray we will all be in the peace and presence of God one day. Until that day, if we will draw near to Him while we are still here on earth…He will draw near to us and give us peace in His presence.

For now, thank you Faith, for sharing your life with all of us in such an amazingly gifted way on stage. God’s love shines through you, and from the standing ovation you received at the end of your “One Woman Show,” I know that I was not the only one who was deeply touched by your stories from the heart.

Until we meet again,

May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.”
Numbers 6:26 (NLT)

Three days after writing this, The Lord showed Barbara His favor and gave her peace. She is at Home with Him now, eating His glorious food, breathing His glorious air, walking in His glorious strength. I will share more of her story in my next message, as I process through our 40-year friendship, and our last day together on this earth.