Dress rehearsals are meant to be a final opportunity to fine-tune the meticulous, laborious, sometimes tedious work that has been done with your craft. It is supposed to be finishing touches on that which is almost, in every way, already perfected.
Not for us.
So much still needed to be done and we had two days before our crowning event, Summer In The City, was to be shared. I was embarrassed by the amount of work that still needed to be done. I thought I'd failed every kid there. I wanted to quit. I wanted to tell the church we were to share at that we couldn't do it. They would have to completely re-program their service in two days, because we just couldn't do it. Months of rehearsal and prayer amounted to nothing. So many miles parents drove to bring their students to flesh out their piece of the service and it was a flop!
I was so ashamed.
I went to God in prayer to ask for forgiveness for ruining the ONE time our Leaders got to show His power and I felt a strong knowing, or sense even, that God was saying, "Why is there only ONE time? Aren't there other people who need to hear this message of hope outside of a church? Who else needs to see the power I have to make my love understood through people who others have written off as not mature enough, not respectful enough, not something enough? How will people know that they are enough if you don't go show them with these kids? That needs to be shared everywhere and often."
I realized that I'd done what I accused others of doing. I relegated their ability to use their gifts to a performance on a Sunday morning to prove a point. Because "this was the way people would take them seriously." This was a way to gain affirmation from people through applause. God already showed me that Young Leaders' Life was real and valid. Why wasn't God's word to me enough? Was this a performance or was this an opportunity for people to see God do great things in unlikely ways?
I did what I could to help prepare everyone. I prayed. My husband did breathing exercises with me. When Sunday came, the congregation had more folks than usual. We didn't know, but there was a graduation celebration for all the school graduates that Sunday. The energy in the place was already electric. A family had come from out of town to Christen their baby and people were already celebrating God before we got up. The videos we prepared ran smooth. The demonstrations the Leaders did went off without a hitch (and if know object lessons, you know how bad those can go). The Leader preachers spoke with passion. The Leaders that took photos took brilliant shots. We had a Leader bow out on presenting, but did a fantastic job running tech! The main points were clear, the Gospel was compelling, and people were encouraged, including our Leaders!
I was beating myself up because there were so many obstacles. The obstacles were present because I was doing something I'd never done before. The Leaders were doing something they'd never done before. Those were just the hurdles one jumps in creating. There was grace for that.
And there is more where that comes from. Our next year will be filled with opportunities for our Leaders to do more. To share more, because this world needs them.