No Time to Rehearse

No Time to Rehearse

Oct 26, 2016

by Kevin Butler

At our annual Conference in Houghton, NY, this past August, I had some fun reminiscing and telling stories from my college days there. I shared about several experiences that took place on the stage at Wesley Chapel when I co-hosted the college’s monthly variety shows.

The job of the host was to keep the show moving and to provide some entertainment and laughs between the more “serious” acts. We did that with silly skits, songs, and professor impersonations — some were rehearsed, while others were “inspired” at the moment. Lots of work, lots of life lessons, and lots of fun!


Time to graduate

Then I fast-forwarded to graduation time. It was one week before we got our diplomas; one week before I would start my first full-time job, working with my Dad up at GE in Utica; four months to the day before Janet and I would get married.

I was up late the night before, working on a skit (of all things) for our senior retreat. But I had to get up pretty early to do my regular morning sign-on shift at the college radio station.

The phone rings at Davis House. Somebody else answers it and says, “Butler, it’s for you!”

I get to the phone in the living room, and it’s my Dad.

Dad never called me…must’ve been about the job, or he and Mom coming down for graduation. So I say, “Hey Dad, what’s up?”

“Kev, your Mom died last night.”

Wh— wh— What?

“We think she had a heart attack. I found her this morning in her favorite chair in front of the TV. Dusty the dog was at her feet.”

Wh— wh— What?

“I need you to come home and help with the arrangements.” (It was a 3-1/2 hour drive back then.)

“Uh, okay… I’ll be there as soon as I can.” And I hang up the phone.

There’s no “rehearsal” for something like this.

Time to go home

I look around my room and my head is just spinning. Mom?? Grabbing my shave kit and a bunch of clothes and dress shoes, I put them in my car.

And then I remember— “Arrghh!! The radio station!!”

It was too late to call somebody at the last-minute, so I drive over to the studio, warm up the transmitter, cue up the reel-to-reel tape for the Morning Chapel Hour — moving like a zombie — wondering who is coming in to read the news.

As I was writing a note, and hoping that the news person could handle things on his own, in walks Steve Lennox. Steve, my boisterous, vocal, pre-seminary, fellow soccer player, fellow soccer announcer, fellow actor, and good friend.

He knew right away that something was wrong.

I got up and just said, “Steve, my Mom died last night…”

Boisterous, vocal, full-of-life Steve did not say one word. He put his arms around me. And he hugged me. And he held me.

I will never, never, NEVER forget that.

If you’re looking to do ministry in God’s Kingdom, that was like a full year of seminary right there. When someone’s hurting, it might be best just to show up, shut up, and hold them.

Steve took over the morning shift, and I headed northeast to Vernon.

Life lessons

You know, we can make plans, and have happy times of anticipation and family celebrations, and then the bottom drops out.

There’s no chance for rehearsals for times like that. Yet, God’s Spirit and presence, in every step and story along the way, can be a type of “rehearsal” for your new challenge.

He’s saying, “As I was with you then, I am with you now.”

Life is full of faith, family, and education.

I had a full education at Houghton. A little bit of it was in the classroom. But my education also happened on the soccer field, on the stage, in a radio studio. God’s Spirit and God’s presence was there at every place.

Some of those buildings in Houghton are long gone. Some of the buildings where things took place in your life are gone. Some of the special people in your life are gone.

We still have our stories.

Your life — your story after story along the way — has brought you to where you are now.

God’s Spirit and presence in each of those chapters and stories is the basis of His story in your life.

Bible lessons

Jesus was always using stories and everyday illustrations to connect with his listeners. From Matthew 13 —

Verse 24: “Jesus told them another parable.”

Verse 31: “He told them another parable.”

Verse 33: “He told them still another parable.”

Verse 34: “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in


And what were the stories about? Everyday things: sowing seeds and harvesting; talking about agriculture. Mustard seeds and birds; talking about nature. Yeast and baking bread; how God is involved in the everyday things of Life.

Matthew 13 goes on with more parables about the hidden treasure and the pearl, and the parable of the fisherman “catching all kinds of fish.”

We can attract “all kinds” of people with our stories and the Gospel message. Then we “catch” them when we allow God to work through us with actions of love and caring.

Like with a silent hug.

Moving to John 11, Mary and Martha confront Jesus after their brother dies and is entombed. Did Jesus come back with a story or with lots of words?

What did He do? Jesus wept. First, He wept. He felt. He loved.

And then he acted. “Take away the stone.” “Lazarus, come out!” “Take off the grave clothes!”

From stories to actions

We can share our stories and get our friends’ attention. And it’s not just to keep things moving, or to keep them laughing — but to get to the point, which is how the Lord has been with you! Then we need to weep with them, to hold them, to take away their death sentence, and allow God’s Spirit and love to revive them to eternal life!

Can we do that? Can we imitate Christ?

Not “impersonate” (mocking the external), but imitate (taking on the character of) the Lord as it says in Ephesians 5:1.

Let’s not be ashamed to be like Jesus. Share your story, but also know when to shut your mouth, and hug, and love.

I’m thankful that Jesus was not telling stories just to tell stories, but He was living a story. He was building a story for us, to live our story.

I’m thankful that our words and our actions allow us to tell and live His story, which was His death on the cross (an action) — the greatest story ever told!!

Share your story, and point to Jesus!

Then, with your actions, imitate the one Who is the inspiration and author of your story.

May all of your stories lead back to Jesus, and His love. Amen.

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