In the third grade our class put on a play for our parents. In the play we represented some of the Presidents of the United States and their most memorable speeches. I can still remember the feel and look of what it was like to attend a 1950’s vintage grade school. San Tomas School had an auditorium that doubled as a cafeteria during the day and a stage for special gatherings that would occasionally take place in the evening. On the night of the play, I was Abraham Lincoln. I made a top hat and fake beard from black poster paper. I was trying to not move too much to make sure the hat and fake beard didn’t fall off my head. As we waited, I could hear the sounds of the audience coming from beyond the closed curtain.
It is nerve-wracking for a third grade kid to stand with his classmates behind a curtain waiting to be unveiled before an unseen audience. We tried our best to suppress our nervous giggles. I remember our teacher lining us up so that our part would correspond with the progression of the program. Once lined up we had to wait. We could hear our teacher, Mr. Raco, on the other side of the curtain welcoming the parents to the play. The waiting was a fearful experience. I found myself rehearsing my lines and wondering if I could do it without a mistake. The more I tried to rehearse the more nervous I became.
Then, just beyond the curtain, I heard the unmistakable sound of my father’s cough. I have that same cough. My wife, Jan, can tell where I am located in a large department store by simply waiting to hear that signature Elkins-man cough.
When I heard my father cough all my fear went away. I knew I would be OK because my father was out there just beyond the dense barrier of the heavy forest green stage curtain. My growing peace came because someone who loved me would be there to encourage me simply by his presence. I no longer felt alone. My fear gave way to courage. When the curtain finally rose, I looked out and there were my parents. My dad was smiling the proud smile of a loving father. I didn’t miss a line that night.
Today as I write this, I sense some of you need to know that God, your Father, is just beyond the veil that separates you from the future – a future you are not yet able to see. You are not sure you want the curtain to rise because some of the past opening night performances in your life have not gone well. This time something is different. In the wait you are sensing a growing awareness that God’s presence is waiting for you in your future with something new and good. That awareness is the gift of hope. The hope of knowing He is there will give you the peace and courage you will need to play your part in something much larger and more wonderful than you could ever imagine.