I’m going to be honest with y’all. I love Lent, like a nerd. Ever since I was old enough to understand what it meant and each of its components and traditions, there’s just been something about remembering where man once stood, being humbled, and the glory that comes at the end of the season that has always been so special to me.
This year the season has approached much quicker than I anticipated. Perhaps it’s because the Lord has presented such amazing, yet unexpected, opportunities and I’ve been occupied with that. Or maybe it’s because I just celebrated 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, and I just came off of a high, high mountain top. Either way, I feel privileged. Privileged, because it’s another opportunity to draw closer to Him. This year, Lent will be serving as a reminder that the kind of closeness and intimacy that we achieve with Christ during those highs can continue to grow more and more every day, even after we go back to a daily routine that doesn’t include that added pause.
The period leading up to my internship offer and my other big news was unlike any other fast I’ve ever participated in. I told y’all about it, y’all know. I don’t think I’ve ever bowed that low and felt Jesus in such an intimate way. When I found out where the Lord was taking me next, I was so excited, but not 2 weeks into my new routine I started getting a little concerned because I suddenly had so much on my plate. “Lord, I don’t want to revert. I don’t even want to stay stagnant. I want to continue to grow. I want this intimacy to remain. This is best part of all that’s happening in my life right now, it’s YOU! How do I do this? All of this is for you, and without you it is nothing, so just be with me and intervene!” That was my prayer while in the car, of course. I spend more time there now than I used to.
His soothing voice came back to me, just like a wave on the shore, in perfect tandem. He prevails over my life, and every minute that I put Him first, He will make all things work together for my (His) good. I’m seeking Him, and He is ALWAYS seeking me, so it might take some getting used to, but He won’t let my foot strike against the stone. If I just stay focused on him, it will all be alright, no matter how high or low the activity level is.
It’s kind of like when you’re first learning how to water ski. You’re put in the water, have the rope to hold, and with the skis on your feet, everything feels heavier and the water rises higher as you sink down. But if you position your feet just right, and hold on tight, then the boat will move and you’ll be on top of the water, gliding along beautifully. It may take a few tries to get right, but once you get the hang of it, and if you keep your eyes ahead, then you’ll be gliding on top of the water.
Lent couldn’t come at a better time this year. Even though I have so much happening and more responsibilities to take care of, and even though Lent will complicate figuring out what to eat thus taking more thought and time, it’s perfect. As soon as I walk into the work place and the pace of my life picks up, here’s this season to remind me of where I just was so that I really won’t forget. Not a month later, I have this fast–which although it’s longer than 21 days, is still less intense–to keep me close to His heart. I’m getting to learn how to further keep Jesus at the focal point of my life in the midst of busyness, success, to-do lists, and this time I’m going to continue to grow nearer to Him. What joy that brings, during a somber season.
Back in November, I heard an ad on the radio for an audition with a group called AMTC (Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ). It caught my attention a little bit, but I changed the station and forgot about it. However, ever since I was little, there has been a place in my heart for acting. At the age of two, I invented my own little game which consisted of picking my favorite movie (Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, The Jungle Book), gathering necessary “props”, and acting out the movie along with the movie playing in the background. From a very young age, I could easily memorize lines and inflections, and was always willing to perform in front of a packed audience. I vividly remember sitting my parents down after dinner one night and reenacting the entire dialogue between Cruella DeVill (Glenn Close) and Anita, when Cruella sees Anita’s drawing of the puppy coat and brings her into her office to discuss the young designer’s career. (Lovely 1990’s flashback right? ) I knew both character’s lines like I was saying the Pledge of Allegiance and had so much fun showing off for my parents. Not too mention, so much fun speaking in a British accent!
As I grew up, I simply didn’t think there was any sensible way to pursue acting, so I just moved on when I got to grade school. I mean, everyone has crazy dreams like that right? I wanted to know what my real life calling was. But November was a month where the Holy Spirit awakened this part of me, reminding me of what He created me to be. Long story short, on what seemed like a fun whim I decided to give AMTC a shot.
So in late January, I did it. I prepared a monologue, and despite being sick and a little discouraged, went and layed the very last piece of my heart on the line. I felt really silly. But the cool thing about AMTC, is that they believe that the entertainment industry is the call out mission field of the 21st century. They are there to use their talent, and simultaneously be light for God. They are technically a 501 C3 non-profit, and they call themselves a congregation. Everything they do is faith and scripture based. (Trust me. Skeptical-me did a serious amount of researching). I have always thought about what I would do as a Chrisitian if I were in the public spotlight, whether it were being a politician, business owner, and of course, an actress. Everyone pictures their life and how they will live it, but I always can’t help but think of it from an entertainment point-of-view.
(I have never laid all this out for anyone but my family before. If y’all have gotten this far and don’t think I’m crazy yet, y’all are champs).
Anyway, to wrap up the story, Carey Lewis, the founder of the company, was my consultant and apparently gave me a perfect review. For the rest of the weekend, we prayed about me joining. The biggest issues for me were 1. can I still work a real job alongside this? The answer was, yes, of course, because 95% of their performers have jobs they do with AMTC on the side. 2. Money. I hate money y’all. Good thing it’s the number one thing the Bible tells us to not worry about. Jesus just said, “remember what I’ve said about tithing and building up treasures in heaven? Just do it. If nothing else happens, consider it your tithe to a great ministry”. So, for the next year, I’m doing online classes, and will communicate with my hub in Atlanta all in preparation for a week long event called SHINE (next winter) where I will audition for hundreds of scouts (including Warner Brothers, Fox, Turner Broadcasting, and Sony just to name a few)…. I am following Jesus and He has a plan. No idea what it consists of. But I trust Him.
Between AMTC and work, I suddenly have amazing things to do. I love my internship so far, more than any other job I’ve worked (which may seem intense for only having been here less than a month, but it’s great). AMTC is seriously so cool. I don’t even care if Jesus decides for me to participate and nothing come out of it but friendships and community. He knows what’s going on. Some days I feel like I’m dreaming, but this is real. That’s how big our God is. Best part is, He isn’t even finished yet.
Lent couldn’t come at a better time. I said it once, and now I said it again, but I mean it. If you haven’t seen the common thread in everything that’s been happening yet, you might consider getting glasses because you might be blind. (Haha! Just kidding. But seriously). I don’t care about any of this is Jesus is not in it. His intimacy is what I want above everything.
Notice I’ve said “intimacy” several times. That’s because intimacy and a relationship are two different things. The relationship is important, but it simply isn’t enough. I cannot survive without Jesus. I can’t. So I need Him all day, errday. And I need Him in the rawest, closest form possible. Thank God He is who He is!
Fasting and dedicated, conscious prayer is what brings us to this level of a relationship with Christ, to this intimacy. And that is what Lent brings about. Not only do we reflect on our lack and His bounty, but we come to the conclusion that we need more of Him. So that’s why I love Lent. It silences busyness and puts Jesus back where He belongs: paramount in our lives. We are nothing without Him.
Unfortunately, I have a plug that I have to give. I don’t make any money, but God said trust Him on the money thing. That being the case, I’m doing what I can, and have begun painting. It’s called 3D By C.Lee, and is available on my website. Each work will have at least one 2D element incorporated into it, whether it’s feathers, chains, raised paint, textured paint, etc… I’ll have them up soon, so be sure to take a look! Everything I make will 100% go towards my membership with AMTC. Guaranteed.
So during this Lenten season, I hope each of you find a new way to get closer to Him, and I pray that you experience His love in a whole new, more intimate way. Until next week…