The other night some friends invited me to an improv show.  Improv creates comedy by taking random audience suggestions and throwing them at the players (and sometimes audience members) on stage.  The players act out improbable scenarios, make up songs, and create comedic sketches completely on the spot. Improv shows are high energy, high audience participation.  In other words, improv is specially designed to entertain extroverts and terrify introverts. I, in case you missed it before, am an introvert.

But I’m fascinated by improv, so I said yes.

The thing that’s so fascinating about improv is how they do it.  How can a group of people spontaneously make up nearly two hours of dialogue, song, and dance and have it be anything but a train wreck?

Probably the same way you and I do.

When you come right down to it, improv is not so different from a day in the life.  We never know what’s coming, but there’s not much we can do once it does except jump in and make the most of it.  Sometimes things click and we race through laughter and camaraderie.  Sometimes things don’t, and we struggle just to make it through this scene.  (Please emcee, blow the whistle and make it stop.)

There’s actually a secret I read once.  The secret to improv is that the players must always say “yes.”  When you’re in the middle of an improv, you must always build off what another player does or says.  Even if you don’t like it, you have to grab hold of it and make something of it.  That’s what keeps the momentum and the story line going.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

We have an Emcee who not only controls the scene changes in our lives, He also orchestrates the audience suggestions and dictates the other players who are on stage with us.  Our job is to keep saying yes.  No matter what.

Think of how many heroes of the Bible are recorded because they said “yes” to a scenario God presented:

  • Abram was directed to a new and unknown land (Genesis 12:1-7).
  • Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus).
  • Elijah witnessed powerfully before the people (1 Kings 18:16-39).
  • Esther used her circumstances to save the Jewish people from massacre (Esther).
  • The disciples dropped their fishing nets and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22).

I also think of Joseph dragged to Egypt against his will (Genesis 37-45). For years he kept his focus on God even though he did not like the scenes that kept getting thrown his way.  If Joseph had shut down, if he had turned his back on God, if he had said “no” at any point, then he never could have burst onto the stage at that pivotal time to save both the Egyptians and his own family from famine.

Most important of all, Jesus Himself said “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing…”(John 5:19).  And the night before his crucifixion, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).Ultimately, we are saved because Jesus said “yes” to His Father.

We will never experience a casting call quite like our Biblical heroes or our Savior. But we are called to look for God’s presence right here, right now. All around us are opportunities that God is presenting.  He is bringing people onto our stage. He is setting a scene. He is cueing us to begin.  Who has God brought into your life recently that you can reach out to?  What need is on your doorstep that you can respond to? What whisper is in your heart that you can listen to?

Do you remember how this story started?  Some friends asked if I wanted to go to an improv show.

I said yes.

 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

How I Love Thee, Indoor Treadmill

Top Ten Reasons why running on a treadmill is better than my trainer-friend says:

10) It’s warm.  Actually it’s a little too warm, which can be problematic, but…

9)   I can roll out of bed and onto the treadmill without having to put on 18 layers of moisture-wicking thermal insulation.  This saves both time and laundry.  Win-win!

8)   Springy pavement.  Is it my imagination, or is running on treadmills way easier on your shins?  I am also discovering that I tend to run more on my toes on a treadmill.  No idea why, or if it will last.

7)   Mirrors.  Okay, so this could be a blessing or a curse.  You’re probably supposed to do something constructive like look at your running form, but I prefer to make faces at myself and give thumbs up to all the other runners in the mirror, namely, me.

6)   Fancy gadgets, like heart monitors.  I haven’t actually used the fancy gadgets (I have such a high resting heart rate I’m afraid my running heart rate would probably set off an alarm), but just looking at them makes me feel high tech.

5)   Calorie counter.  Let’s me know how many extra Twinkies I should pack in my lunch.  I need to make a suggestion to the manufacturer, though, that it would be much more motivational to remove the numbers and simply announce things like, “Congratulations, you just earned yourself three slices of pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s!  One more mile, and you also get a chocolate bar!”

4)   Digital timer.  Perfect for tracking my run-walk intervals.  Assuming I’m paying attention, which sometimes I do.

3)   Digital Pedometer.  Seriously, how can you not love the tick, tick, tick as the numbers go by?  And when I reach my distance, the stop button brings everything to an instantaneous halt.  Because really, why take one more step than you have to?

2)   Buttons. Oh, buttons!  Who could ever get bored on a treadmill with so many buttons to push?  My favorite is the speed control. Ha ha ha, look at me, I’m running 10 mph!  (Okay, so that actually didn’t happen, but the point is, it could.)  There’s also the incline button (I pushed that button once.  Won’t do that again.)  And all the fancy program buttons that I’m still too scared to touch because some of the pictograms next to them look like I might get ejected off the back of the treadmill.  If you hear a crash from the fitness center, you’ll know I pushed the wrong one.

1)   My trainer-friend said treadmills are not fun, and every once in a while I have this incontrovertible stubbornness that makes me see for myself just how bad… Wait a minute…  Was this a trick?

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice (Proverbs 12:15).