Thursday, May 29, 2014
God's Love For Us, Illustrated Through Performance Art
One of my favorite jobs as a photographer is getting to capture the still images of Experience Arts School's students and shows. I recently photographed their spring performance, "Wonder" and I can honestly say that the quality of their art gets better and better each semester.
One performance in particular stood out to me this year. I had the privilege of photographing it twice, once in the run-through and again at the final performance. I was in tears both times. The piece illustrated God's love for us so intensely that I just have to share it here. All of the descriptions you'll read are my own interpretation of what I saw. I wanted to just put that in there in case my understanding doesn't match the intent of the original artist.
The dance opens as God creates man. He breathes life into him, provides for him, and communes with him. Man is in awe of God and is completely cared for by Him.
Soon, distractions (I say distractions as opposed to sins because that is how they start, seemingly innocent distractions that steal our attention and hearts away from the One who created them) start entering the stage. At first, it seems harmless enough to enjoy a dance with Seduction, but this temptation was sent by the enemy to take man's eyes off of God. Man is wooed away from the One who loves him and once he has followed after the Seduction, he is cast aside, the once distraction, now sin, takes it's place between man and God.
As Seduction casts man aside, Greed enters the stage and tempts man with money and man chases after it. When he finally attains the riches, Greed rips them from his hand, leaving man nothing and takes his place between God and man.
Alone and broke, man is "befriended" by Drunkenness and Addiction. The ones that would have him throw all of his cares away and drown them in a party lifestyle filled with anything to numb the pain and emptiness he feels.
When man realizes that what he has been seeking comfort in is poison, he shoves it away, but he can no longer see God for all of the sin that stands between them. Alone again, man is confronted by the world's view of perfection and beauty. He doesn't measure up to the iconic image and is left feeling ashamed, defeated, hopeless and alone. Self hatred has taken hold.
The distractions that enter no longer seem harmless, they are destructive and evil and they try to bring death along with them. It is often this way in our own lives. The more distractions we allow to come between us and our Creator, the darker they become and the further out of reach He seems to be.
Enter Self-Loathing who teaches man to begin his own physical destruction, man follows along because he sees no other alternative. There is a long line of his past failures that now stand between him and the Lover of his soul. God however, has not taken His eyes off of man and He calls to him continually, trying to get his attention, but man doesn't see, he is caught up in his despair.
Suicide comes in alongside Self-Loathing and tries to shove a gun into man's hand. Man sees no other alternative, he knows it's the wrong choice and he is obviously torn, but he is blocked from hope. Hope is not blocked from him, and God cries out to His creation. Man hears His call and briefly reaches toward the loving voice, but he feels incapable of escaping the enemy's hold and he takes the gun. After an internal struggle between choosing life or choosing death, he realizes that God is his only chance, he throws down the gun, turns, and tries to run into the arms of the Savior who loves him. All he has to do now is break through the long line of sin and failures that stand between him and God. He can't do it.
This is where I was thrown for a loop the first time I saw the dance. I couldn't understand why God didn't just come between the sin and man. He could have, but He didn't. Then I saw why. Man was trying to get to Him.... yes....but he was doing it in his own strength, he was coming against the enemy on his own and trying to break through by himself. God was reaching out to him and pulling him in by the cords of His lovingkindness (Hosea 11:4 "I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him." and Jeremiah 31:3 "The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness..."") and man was responding by trying to get to God, but not in the right way. Man can't reach God on his own. We need a Savior to come between us and the sin we are entangled in. The Savior comes when we surrender.
After several failed attempts to run through the enemy to God, man surrenders. He falls to ground and prays, he lifts his hands in abandon and lets Jesus step in and do the work. The instant man repents, God, as Jesus, jumps between man and his accusers. They continue to fight to get at man and Jesus holds them back as man comes to God in surrender and prayer. Then, He pushes back and throws the enemy aside. Man is free. Free again to walk with the Lover of his soul. Jesus leans down and puts His banner around man's shoulders. He calls him by His own name and man walks with God, the Holy Spirit holds man in a long embrace and leads him off the stage to walk with him and lead him through his life.
Not only was this piece a poignant illustration of God's saving grace for mankind in general, it can also be applied to each of us as individuals. Even when we have given our lives to God, distractions have a way of entering in and standing between us and our Savior. God calls out to us and draws us to Him with His cords of loving kindness. At any time, we can call out to Him in surrender and give all that is between us to Him so that all areas of our lives are completely under His Lordship and we can walk in the path He has laid out for us. If there is sin or past failures standing between you and God now, just take some time to cry out to Him, let Him defeat the enemies in your life. Then, accept His forgiveness and walk alongside Him through your life.
If you would like to know more about Experience Arts School, go here. I couldn't recommend the school more highly. My own kids go there and I love how they are taught, not only do they learn performance arts, but they are also taught how to use their gifts as a means of worship. That to me, is priceless. EAS even has a summer camp coming up soon, there is still time to register! There are tracks in dance, theatre, music and tech. Here is the info for this year's camp. I hope to see you there!
And now, here are some images taken of the, "Everything" performance on the night of the show. Enjoy!
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