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  • Writer's pictureJaime Hilton

3 Ways Life is Like a Rehearsal (and 2 Ways it is Not!)

You only live once.

No day but today.

Make this life count.

Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.

“Seize the moment. ‘Cause tomorrow you might be dead.”

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

There’s nothing wrong with living life to the fullest, engaging in the moment, and making those moments count. But what if the choices we make – the relationships we invest in, the things we spend our time on, the habits we develop – do make a difference? What if life IS a rehearsal? What if the final curtain isn’t closing at the end of the show, but opening to the beginning of something more exciting and wonderful that we can ever imagine?

Life is Like a Rehearsal

1. The purpose of rehearsal is to prepare for the show.

When rehearsals begin you don’t know anything, or at least not much, about the play. Maybe you’re familiar with the story or songs. Maybe you know other pieces by the playwright or have worked on the stage or with this particular company before. But you don’t know this director’s vision. You don’t know his (or her) point of view. You don’t know how your character’s story fits into the overall story of the play. You don’t know how you relate to the other characters. Rehearsal is where you learn all of this and more.

There is much I do not know about heaven and the afterlife. But I do know that there is more to this life than just this and that the things we do in this life will matter to our eternity. The most significant choice we make is to trust Jesus (John 3:16-18), but we also store treasures, grow fruit of the Spirit, and run the race in such a way that we win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24). See also: Matthew 6:20-21, 2 Tim 4:8, Revelation 22:12, Hebrews 6:10, 1 Cor 3:8, 2 John 8, 1 Cor 15:58.

Just as the performance of the show is the completion of the rehearsal process, our eternal life with Jesus is the completion of our life on earth.

I love this explanation from Got Questions:

“Likewise, any rewards or honor we gain in heaven will be precious to us because they carry the weight and meaning of our relationship with God—and because they remind us of what He did through us on earth.

In this way, rewards in heaven glorify God and provide us with joy, peace, and wonder as we consider God’s work in us and through us. The closer we were to God during this life, the more centered on Him and aware of Him, the more dependent on Him, the more desperate for His mercy, the more there will be to celebrate. We are like characters in a story who suffer doubt, loss, and fear, wondering if we will ever really have our heart’s desire. When the happy ending comes and desire is fulfilled, there comes a completion. The story would not be satisfying without that completion. Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying (Psalm 16:11).”

2. Rehearsal is Where You Build the Ensemble Bond

Any actor worth his salt can jump into a scene with a stranger and play it well by listening and being in the moment. But there is something special about the bond between scene partners. Much of the magic on stage comes from the trust and camraderie between players. The crew, too, are a part of creating this magic as it takes everyone working together towards a common goal to bring the show to life.

As believers preparing for eternal life, storing up treasure is all through the relationships we build now. Matthew 10:41-42, 1 Corinthians 9. Though the things of earth will pass away and be made new, we will still be who we are, recognizable as ourselves. (see: Like the rewards, the more time we spend investing in people, the more enjoyable our relationships will be.

3. Rehearsal is the Time to Try.

I’ve had more than one director say “never apologize in rehearsal”. Rehearsals are not supposed to be perfect. They are about learning and discovering. As a director I don’t want to give the actors every single movement. They’re not my puppets. I want them to try things and bring their own voice to the project. I expect my actors to come to rehearsal prepared and ready to work – studying their script, discussing things with me, and making thoughtful choices within the framework of my direction.

Making mistakes in rehearsal does not mean you have a free pass to do whatever you want because grace covers it all. It means you don’t have to have everything figured out before you start living and serving and loving. Like an actor engaged in the rehearsal process, you have permission to dive in and seize (the day, the moment, whatever!) Even if the choice you make is not the strongest, you are a better actor for going through the process, growing in your understanding of who your character is and how they relate to the bigger story.

Life is NOT Like a Rehearsal

1. We can’t reset the scene

In this life we don’t get to stop, reset and run the scene from the top again and again until we get it right. The mistakes we make can be redeemed but not recovered. Broken things can be restored but we cannot erase the past and pretend it never happened. With forgiveness we might get a second chance, but we don’t get a do-over. In that sense, life is not a rehearsal.

2. The Rehearsal Space

I really wanted to draw the parallel that rehearsals often take place somewhere other than the stage where they will be performed but there are also just as many cases where rehearsal does happen on the stage. There are even more where shows travel around and there is no permanent stage ever. So I’m not including it as a reason life can be compared to rehearsal.

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesisastes 3:11.

When it comes down to it, I don’t care if you call this life a rehearsal or a show. What matters is that you understand eternity, existence after this life on earth is over, is a real thing and that the choices you make today will have an effect on that life.

“They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord;

they will walk behind the plowshare, they will put away the sword;

the chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing? Say, do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring When tomorrow comes!”

(Finale, Les Miserables)

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