Slow, somber music faded away. All lights were extinguished, including the spot on the cave-like tomb, stage left.
Black silence enveloped us for several moments as the burial scene concluded, a dramatic part of the Easter musical production at our church.
In a hushed voice, the narrator picked up the story. He explained that when Sunday morning came, women went to the tomb. We, the audience, could see them approaching from stage right, talking among themselves.
They peered into the tomb, and cried out as they discovered the body of Jesus was gone. No sooner did they begin to question what might have happened, than an angel suddenly appeared next to them. I don’t mean, “walked up and joined them.” No. One moment that angel was nonexistent; the next moment there he stood, gleaming brightly.
How did the stage crew create such a startling scene? They used a scrim, a large sheet of gauzy fabric, behind the back of the tomb. When the tomb was lit from the front, everything behind the scrim was invisible. When the spotlight behind the scrim came up, suddenly the audience could see the angel.
That scrim-effect made me think: we live with a virtual scrim in front of us every day. We cannot see what God has planned for us in the future. Events of tomorrow—even this afternoon—are blocked from us by black silence. In his infinite wisdom God has determined that’s the best way for us to live.
But! After the fact–after events unfold—sometimes we’re able to look back to see behind the scrim, and note how God orchestrated events for our benefit.
I’m remembering a particularly difficult move years ago. We were leaving a much-loved church where my husband had pastored for six years, and beginning a new ministry across-state.
My personal challenge would be obtaining a teaching position in our new locale, at a time when there were more teachers than positions available.
But look what God did:
First, he “introduced” me to Diane, a delightful young woman—also a teacher. Her parents were members of our new church. Diane actually attended elsewhere, but every now and then would join her parents on a Sunday morning. She visited shortly after our arrival.
Second, God urged Diane to offer help with our unpacking. We spent a delightful morning emptying boxes and organizing various items while getting acquainted. I learned that she taught at a small private school, with just two classes at each grade level. The school was close by, too—only four minutes away. Diane suggested she submit my name for the substitute list. I told her, “Sure!”
Third, God created many substitute opportunities for me at Diane’s school, but fulltime employment seemed unlikely. No one was close to retirement; no one was moving. Meanwhile I applied at public schools within a reasonable commute of our home.
But in April, without even an interview, God prompted the headmaster at the private school to offer me a position. One of the fourth grade teachers had just been elected mayor. Trying to fulfill those responsibilities and teach was more than she wanted to tackle.
I started the following August, which gave me the entire summer to prepare. My classroom was right next door to Diane’s.
When that job opportunity opened up, it was as if the spotlight turned on behind the scrim. Suddenly I could see how God had carefully arranged the whole sequence of events. My disappointment over leaving our previous home and church turned into a God-ordained appointment at that private school, one that lasted twenty-two years.
“Never underestimate what a redeeming God can do, “ says Karol Ladd.*
And keep your eye on that scrim, for the glorious moment when you can see how he’s been orchestrating events for your benefit (Jeremiah 29:11).
*from Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive by Karol Ladd, Howard Books, 2009.
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When have you glimpsed behind the scrim of your life? What events has God orchestrated for your benefit? Share with us your story in the comments below!