"Be Not Afraid"

The creative life always comes with moments of doubt, even when you’ve offered up prayer after prayer.

Posted in , Oct 11, 2012

An image from the Broadway musical "Scandalous." Photo: 2011 Chris Bennion.

We often get prayer requests at OurPrayer from people who are starting new businesses or feel called to do something creative, like writing or singing or opening a small restaurant or creating greeting cards. They feel overwhelmed and afraid and wonder if they’ve made the right decisions or even have the talent to do what God seems to be calling them to do.

“Hey, you’re not alone,” I want to say. Somehow the creative life, even when you know it’s what you’re meant to do, even when you offer up prayer after prayer, even when you feel all the forces of heaven are on your side, comes with moments of doubt and devastating fear. You have to make your way through a host of critics and naysayers, listening for the kernel of truth in their comments while holding on to your vision.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I was at a hotel lunch with Kathie Lee Gifford, who has written the book and lyrics of the musical Scandalous, about evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (opening in previews on Broadway this Saturday, October 13).

She spoke passionately about her dream to write this show, her obsession for a dozen years, her conviction that Aimee Semple McPherson’s story as both saint and sinner had much to say to audiences today.

Indeed McPherson was an amazing woman, building the million-dollar Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, making it a must-see spot for all visitors to Hollywood in the 1920s, filling its 5,300 seats three times a day, seven days a week for her electrifying preaching. But she was also a controversial figure, with three husbands and a mysterious disappearance when she said she had been kidnapped but others claimed she was shacked up with a lover. “An inconvenient truth,” Kathie Lee acknowledged.

“Hey,” I thought, listening to Kathie Lee, “it’s easy enough for you to write a musical and raise the millions of dollars to get it produced on Broadway. You’re a big star yourself, on TV five days a week. You must have friends in high places.”

Then I let go of my cynicism for a moment and realized it was still a scary thing for her to do, really scary. “The Bible verse I cling to,” she said, “and say to myself every time I wake up in the middle of the night, is ‘Be not afraid.’”

Be not afraid. It’s in the Bible in a dozen places, God’s message to us. To journalists at a lunch in a New York hotel conference. To people writing to ourprayer from across the country. To Kathie Lee Gifford, trying to make a dream come true. I don’t know if the musical Scandalous will be a hit or not. The odds against that kind of thing happening are great, but maybe we’re all hard-wired to face insuperable odds with our God-given dreams.

“Be not afraid” is good advice for anybody. Pray on it.

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