Writing a play is really no different than anything else. You make a choice to do your work according to the flesh, or do your work according to the Spirit. I know that in most translations “live according to” is what is PAul says in the 8th chapter of Romans, but you can substitute any of the specific facets of your life in that passage of Scripture and have your eyes opened.
Deal with your in-laws is one. Bring up your children is another. Communicate with your spouse is a good one. Even Pray. Each of those, and a thousand other pieces of your life, may be done either listening to the counsel of the Spirit, or listening to the deception of the flesh. It is your choice.
The results speak for themselves.
After seeing one of the plays, people often ask things like, “Where on earth do you come up with these things?” Typically I stammer out something about “it being the Lord,” and I always feel like I’ve short-changed an adventure and a relationship which I treasure. There is no short answer, because some of the plays have grown from a seed planted decades ago. There is a song in “Say Nicklaus” that I wrote in 1984…thirty years before the play was first staged at Ragtown. The idea for that story had been bumping around in my head all that time. Questions about some passage of Scripture may come back to the surface dozens of times over the years, until one day it will suddenly become the seed of a play.
Here’s an example. In two places, one in Acts and another in Galatians, there is the same cryptic phrase that has always jumped out at me every time I read it. After his remarkable conversion on the road to Damascus, those two passages say that Paul “went to Arabia.”
Went to Arabia? Went to Arabia!
Why? Why did he do that? Where in Arabia? What did he do when he got there? Why even tell us that, if we’re not going to learn something more about it?
I can’t help it, those loose ends make me start digging for answers. And sometimes I uncover a play. Somewhere in the middle of the process, with the top of my desk and part of my floor littered with piles of scribbled notes on scraps of paper, each of which I lose and dig around until I find again a dozen times before the play is finished, I realize that I am not remotely in charge of any of it, and I almost always envision Jesus, laughing and shaking His head…then turning and dashing off around some corner and down a narrow passage. I follow, but I have no idea where we’re going.
Is that working according to the Spirit? It has to be. It feels like hanging on for dear life one day, and sitting alone in the dark thinking I must have totally missed it the next. But eventually I write the words “Fade To Black” and it is finished.
“Sinai…The Mountain of God” is the twenty-fourth play I have written that way. Its seed was that phrase about Paul. It took me to the one place in Arabia that made sense for Paul to go…Mount Sinai. Where God had instructed Moses, giving him the Covenant Law. Where Elijah had fled after defeating the prophets of Baal. We know Jesus personally taught Paul the tenets of the New Covenant. Where else would He do that?
This story was an adventure to write. I believe it is a substantive and revealing message. It is both light-hearted and very dramatic. It will make you laugh, maybe make your tear up a little…and make you think. Best of all, I think anyone who sees it will receive a message that the Lord thought people needed right now. I hope you believe so too.
Pray for us as we set about building Mount Sinai on the Ragtown stage over the next weeks. Pray for Glenn and our company of splendid and truly dedicated actors, as they prepare to deliver the powerful experience that “Sinai..The Mountain of God” is meant to be. And pray for the Gospel Band as we put together a new Ragtown Gospel Jubilee that we hope you’ll love.