The Word in the Wings
The Word in the Wings > From the studio: a call to wholeheartedness
From the studio: a call to wholeheartedness
By: AUDREY HAMMITT
Imagine standing outside on a gray, overcast day without rain, sunshine, or any warm or cool breeze to refresh you. Now think about how this type of weather affects your emotions and mental acuity. These bland surroundings and numb feelings are two examples of the concept of lukewarm, which my character represents in the ballet Be Ready. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines lukewarm as, “1: moderately warm: tepid; 2: lacking conviction: half-hearted.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term “lukewarm” used with a positive or celebratory connotation.
At the beginning of the ballet Be Ready, my character finds herself caught between two groups of people: those who trust God completely and live out their faith genuinely, and those who think Christianity is stupid and choose to rely on themselves. Physically, spatially, and visually, I am placed in the middle of these two groups, which is analogous to being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually between these two contrasting ways of life. The soundscore starts with a voice asking multiple questions pertaining to why God acts the way He does and why there is so much suffering in the world.
My character is caught up in the tension and can’t decide which direction to go. To join those who lack faith in God seems appealing because they appear to have their lives together and not need God. However, those with faith in God radiate assurance and joy and are not shaken by the questions. The tempting third option would be to remain lukewarm and not pick one; but choosing to not choose is a choice in itself and has its own consequences. How does one move forward in life when faced with these options?
Off-stage, we are daily presented with new opportunities to choose the life we want to live, whether that is living for ourselves, for a paycheck, for other people, or for God. The Bible warns us how detrimental to our lives and faith living lukewarm can be. In Revelation 3:14-17, the Lord tells John to write to a church who is acting lukewarm and self-sufficient. He says,
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (NIV)
Lukewarm complacency doesn’t please God, who knows our deeds and motivations. In the ballet, the unfaithful characters embody the latter part of this passage as they don’t take the truth of the gospel to heart and instead fend for themselves, thinking they have all that they need. Yet, if we rely on ourselves or the things of this world, we will eventually be shaken when life does not go how we want.
In contrast, Psalm 62 repeatedly identifies God as our rock and refuge, which connotes His faithfulness and protection for all who trust in Him. David tells himself,
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62:5-6 NKJV, emphasis added)
However, if someone were to only partially hide their body within a fortress under attack, they would suffer great harm. Only when one completely rests within a shelter are they fully protected. John Trapp’s commentary on this psalm states,
“They trust not God at all who trust him not alone. He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot upon a quicksand, will sink and perish, as certainly as he that standeth with both feet upon a quicksand. David knew this, and therefore calleth earnestly upon his soul…to trust only upon God.” (Enduring Word)
This image of one foot on a rock and another on sinking sand is another great picture of what being uncommitted to Christ looks like. Half-hearted trust will leave us unbalanced and shaky because we are not resting our full selves in our only true Rock, Jesus. So, keeping our options open doesn’t lead to fullness of life or the freedom we think we are gaining by not picking a side. But what keeps us tepid and timid to submit our lives and our wills to God? In asking myself why my character (and myself) is hesitant to trust God and remains lukewarm, I kept coming back to fear.
My character is lukewarm because she fears…
…not fitting in.
One situation I am tempted to be lukewarm in is in sharing the gospel, whether that is explicitly explaining the good news of Jesus or standing up for my beliefs. It is more comfortable to keep the truth to myself than risk upsetting someone or not explaining things well. So, my moderate dedication to God sticks to the path of least resistance, remaining lukewarm. Yet, if I truly believe the gift of salvation is the most important message to share, why would I stand in the way of someone hearing this good news? Our key passage for Be Ready is 1 Peter 3:15-16, which includes the call:
“…Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (NRSV)
Being ready to share our hope in Jesus requires us to prepare our whole selves, including mind, body, and language, for any situation or person who asks about what we trust in. Readiness in this ballet is shown in our footwear, a complete set of shoes, and full-bodied commitment to movement. I begin this ballet divided in various ways. I wear one flat ballet slipper on my left foot and one pointe shoe on my right foot, and I have many movements that I perform on my right or left side or have contrast between sides.There is a presentation of and longing for my right (pointe) foot, but also a questioning and doubt in my left (flat) foot. In my solo, I work through questions like, “Do I fully trust my left foot?” “Do I want to fully commit to following Jesus in every seen and unseen area of my life?” My body and face express the divided conviction in the character’s heart.
You could call it ironic, but I think it is also a God-moment, that my left foot has had a lingering injury, so the doubt in my left foot is a mix of reality and acting. This role is a real-life challenge for me to test my faith in God, even when that requires me to trust Him fully with an injury I can’t seem to get over and don’t know when or if I will. Is God still worthy of my trust if He doesn’t give me everything I want? If He is, what do I do with all the messy feelings inside of me? Come to Him. What do I do when I am rejoicing, yet worried for the other boot to drop? Come to Him. What do I do when everyone around me is living differently than I want to live? Come to Him. This ballet offers me a chance to invest my whole self into the movement and acting, even when questions are still bouncing around my mind.
In order to escape a lukewarm trap, we can walk through life with wholehearted commitment to God. Investing our entire selves into our work, dancing, and relationships also invites us to bring our questions along with us. As we earnestly seek God in all we do and go to Him with the questions ringing in our ears, we live undivided, as our sole aim is Christ. Choosing to live wholeheartedly does not mean we will be perfect or not have any questions, but it helps us to see how God is faithfully working in every aspect of life. As with a trusted confidante or family member, we get to approach the God of the universe with all the beautiful, tangled, perplexing things we experience, knowing He has the answers and power to make anything possible. As our only true Rock, He is completely worthy of our full trust and commitment. I encourage you to get rid of the crutch of half-heartedness and draw near to God, letting His Spirit inspire your every move.
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