by Sandy Lemoine
"Strike the set!"
are happy and sad words to hear. It’s the ending of something but the promise of something new ahead. “Strike the set” is a phrase used in the theatre world. It means that, after the final performance, the setting is removed. What existed—a living room, kitchen, outdoor scene—is removed. What the actor has been familiar with for a period of time, weeks or even months, is gone. It is no more!
Personally, my experience in the theatre has been one of relief and sadness. On the one hand, I am weary, ready for a break, even looking forward to the possibility of another play in the months ahead; but, I will miss my fellow actors. I even miss the characters. While we have a special connection forever, we all move on to the next thing in our lives.
As I began taking down all signs of fall recently, getting ready to decorate for Christmas, I thought of the phrase “strike the set.” Pumpkins and pretty, colorful fall branches will be replaced with Christmas trees, nativity scenes, pretty lights, and ornaments. The “set” in my home will change. However, the Good News about Christmas of “Jesus is the reason for the season” is not just a month out of the year. He is the reason for every day of our life, every season we are in. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end, but they are new every morning. No matter your past, no matter mistakes of yesterday, you can wake up to a new beginning when you know Jesus and believe God’s Word.
I've had new beginnings and had to move forward a few times in my life. It is not always easy when "the set" changes. But, moving forward is the only way.
I left a job, a church, a wonderful community, and the city I had known for over 50 years, and I moved forward to a new home and community. I held to the memories, stayed in touch with many special friends—even to this day—but it was a new season in the life of me and my husband. We both looked forward with enthusiasm and joy to the next chapter in our lives.
Then, nine years later, the sudden passing of my husband brought me into another time, a new season... Widowhood. Grief, memories, questions of “why” consumed me. But there came a time I had to make changes around the house. I had to pack up, clean out his closet, his side of the bathroom cabinets, his furniture chest. Special things were kept or shared with family, but the “set” had changed around my home. I was sad, and it was hard; but the only thing to do was… to move forward. And so, I did with the help of God, family, and friends.
Maybe you find yourself in a season coming to an end, whatever it may be. It could be relocating, leaving high school and heading on to college. Maybe death or sadly possibly divorce has struck, or a physical condition has caused a daily lifestyle change. Retirement can be wonderful but also sad. Yes, I have been there as well. Going from a busy work routine to waking up every morning without a schedule is not always as fun as it sounded in your thoughts of it. I have found myself saying as the Apostle Paul did in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”
At this particular time in life—the year of 2020, struck by COVID-19 and a pandemic—there have been so many changes to everyone across not just the United States, but the world. I need not go into any details, for we all know and have experienced them. Different in each case and family routine, but still… change! Talk about a “set” change! Homes became school classrooms and workplaces. Some jobs ended and thus the onset of financial issues.
Many times over these past months I have thought, and perhaps you have also, “I want life as it was!” While hopefully and prayerfully so—the only way toward it is NOT to move backward, but just to move forward into it. So… 2021, I look to you with anticipation and joy. I move forward, with the help and strength of the Lord, into the next chapter, the next scene. I have a print in my office at home that reads “Life is a Picture in Motion!” I am happy I know The Director of this place I find myself in—King Jesus is His name!