Last night was the stage competition for the Mid Essex Magical Society and once again I entered. The some reason this year I was quite nervous. That was not the case in previous years and I couldn’t work out why I was nervous this year. I think it affected my performance a little bit but even so I came third. The competition was won by the brilliant Richard Jones and Jack Blackbourn came second. No disgrace in coming 3rd to them.
All right, I’ll admit it, there were only three people who were able to be there to perform this year but I felt as if I was lucky to come third because my performance had not gone as well as I’d hoped!
This morning (very early) I woke up with my mind running through the point when it all went wrong in one of the illusions. A deck of playing cards was being balanced on a knife (the flat side, not the edge!) and the knife was being held by Stew the Rabbit who I was holding. It probably sounds a bit more complicated than it was but at the crucial moment the playing cards fell off the knife. I think the reason was that I let my nervousness get to me. The slightest tremor in my hand was translated through Stew the Rabbit, along the knife, and caused the precariously balanced cards to tumble. Even though I caught some of the cards others fell to the floor and it was pretty obvious that something had gone wrong.
So why was I nervous? I’m still not sure. It’s not as if I am unused to performing in public – I’ve done it many times without these nerves. It is not as if I was nervous about being judged as I’ve entered the competition twice before and not had a problem with nervousness. I was fairly confident about the routines I was performing. In the end I think it probably was because I felt underprepared. I had worked out what illusions I was going perform previously but I’d had a busy day and hadn’t really had a chance to get my head around all that I was going perform in the evening. I hadn’t thought through my patter well enough so I was uncertain about what I might say. I didn’t rehearse enough (it’s best to get to the point where you can perform without thinking about the techniques so that you can concentrate on the presentation). I blame Stew the Rabbit (after all he can’t answer back!) And I also blame the chamfer on the knife that I used which meant that the cards were even more precarious than perhaps they should have been.
The old adage says that if you fail to prepare you should prepare to fail. There is a degree of truth about that.
I wonder how many churches rush into things underprepared? And by “underprepared” I mean lacking in prayerful preparation. Living the Christian faith and sharing it is not about techniques or programmes or courses but about the strength of the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ, empowered by his Spirit. If we try to do things in our own strength rather than dependent on God we should not be surprised if we fail.
Perhaps also we should not also be disheartened if the results of our endeavours are less than we had hoped: if we have been trying in our own strength because we had failed to prepare. If things didn’t work don’t give up, instead put more focus on the praying part and you might find things are different next time round.
Prepare prayerfully, act faithfully, respond thankfully.
Be blessed, be a blessing