It might have happened when you had the lead role in your church Christmas pageant. Or, it might have happened as an adult in a Sunday morning drama…you forgot your lines! It has happened to all of us. Thankfully, there’s usually help from the wings. If it’s a school play or pageant, there’s a teacher or parent standing backstage with the script in hand, ready to prompt the forgetful child. And if it was a community theater presentation, there was undoubtedly a well-trained prompter in the wings to come to your aid and keep the show moving. In that setting, often the audience doesn’t even know what has happened since the prompter’s voice can’t be heard beyond the stage—an ideal situation.
“Help from the wings” has evolved over time. In the early years of the opera, the prompter was below stage level with his head concealed by a wooden box, open to the stage. Today, the prompter has his own “prompt corner” just offstage where he can jump-start the dialogue in a play should it be forgotten. Cue cards have given way to the ultimate form of “help from the wings” today, the teleprompter, used by news readers on television, politicians, and anyone who is attempting to convey a message without seemingly following a script.
Spiritual Stage Fright
Perhaps you’ve never forgotten your lines. But there’s a kind of stage fright every follower of Christ has experienced: spiritual stage fright.
Spiritual stage fright happens when we’ve done something we know isn’t in God’s script for our life. It happens for the same reason it happens on an actual stage: fear. If other people are aware of our failure, we’re ashamed in front of them. If we’re alone, we know we’re in the presence of God. The Father, Son, and Spirit may be only a three-person audience, but what a place to forget one’s lines of obedience. We look like the deer in the headlights—and we need help from the wings to get moving again.
If you’re a follower of Christ, you know how it feels to get stuck in sin or shame. You know your lines perfectly before you get into a situation. Then, when the curtain goes up and the pressure is on, you do something that is not part of God’s script for your life. You think, God has helped me through these times before—I can’t imagine how it must look to Him for me to plead for help.
The Voice of the Prompter
God thinks the same of you when you forget your lines on the stage of life as the prompter in every play or pageant that’s ever been staged. “Prompters” exist because they understand things don’t always happen like planned. Prompters know that actors don’t show up for a performance planning on forgetting their lines. Nor does God think that of us when we fail.
God hears our prayers. He doesn’t think we’re being insincere. He knows that we want to please Him and remember our lines in difficult situations. And He loves us for it.
That’s why we need only listen for His voice coming from the wings, saying . . .
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
I know the thoughts that I think toward you . . . thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into your heart the things I have prepared for those who love Me (1 Corinthians 2:9, paraphrased).
I . . . am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).
Learning to Hear the Prompter’s Voice
How comforting to hear God’s loving voice prompting us from the wings when we are frozen with fear and forgetfulness. But how do we hear His voice? The Holy Spirit comes to us and calls to mind the promises of God’s Word (2 Peter 1:4). When we need help from the wings, we just need to remember our Prompter is with us.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God, and serves as
Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.