In the Beginning, God CREATED

In the Beginning, God CREATED

When I moved to Fresno last summer, it was hot. It was July, I was in a brand-new city and I was completely alone. I moved into my apartment and quickly found out there is not a whole lot one wants to do when its 300-350 degrees outside every day, all the time…even when the sun goes down.

So I started messing around on my guitar. Suddenly, I started picking this chord progression I had never played before. The sound of what I was playing sparked words, which eventually became verses and choruses. The song, now titled “Drowning Man,” is about the process of surrendering my will to the Father. The song is about how Jesus still chooses to surround me even when I feel like I am the worst offender. After writing “Drowning Man,” I decided to film it and put it on Facebook. Almost instantly people started commenting about how the song was “singing right into their soul,” and perfectly described their experience as a Christian fighting through the ups and downs of life. I began to feel this song was part of a larger story. As I read the comments and replayed the song over and over, I received inspiration to develop that story into a one-man, acoustic musical about Adam and Eve called The Adam Bomb.

For a long time, I had had this idea of creating some sort of theater piece centered on Adam and Eve, but I could never figure it out. I knew that, one: I don’t enjoy “Bible plays” or “church dramas,” as they are usually poorly constructed/performed/costumed (enough burlap and felt already!), and two: I didn’t want to create a corny, churchy, family movie. As an artist, I’ve often been frustrated with “Christian Art” because it doesn’t feel like a true representation of what it is to follow Jesus. The characters sort of get into trouble, but then get out relatively unscathed. They kind of go through some hard times, but then everything’s fine because their beautiful husband or wife and wonderful children stood by their side and never doubted them. Ultimately, truth and reality seem to be lacking from many pieces of “Christian Art.”

To me, the Christian experience is one of intensity. We worship intensely, have intense pain, intense questions and intense joy. When that “Drowning Man” came out on paper I knew there was something innately true in it—we are all messes traveling toward our heavenly home, and God meets us in the midst of it all. We experience things like shame, self-hatred, depression and wickedness. With this in mind, I started crafting The Adam Bomb.

My goal was to create something in tandem with the Holy Spirit. I wanted the Spirit to write it, and me to type it. That turned out to be very much the way it was. Ideas would pop up as I was writing, and scenes would appear. The show is in my voice, and with my sense of humor, but there are many moments that hit on deep truths I didn’t plan on writing about.

The premise of The Adam Bomb is this: Adam and Eve have been removed from the garden, and Cain is serving time for murdering Abel. Adam and Eve are trying to figure out how to move on after their entire world has fallen apart. Adam is now homeless and plays his guitar on the street corner for cash. Eve is in a new relationship with a guy named Tim. Oh yeah, and it all takes place today. Oh yeah again, I play Adam, Eve and Tim because it’s a one-man show. That makes sense, right? The reason it takes place today is because it forces the audience to deal with characters from the Bible as real people. We don’t see them as fig leaf wearing cartoons, but rather, a modern husband and wife, father and mother, who have lost their way, as well as their son(s). This is a story you could easily find in our headlines today. The show impacts audiences deeply because of the present, totally relatable nature of the characters and their circumstances.

So, jumping back to the creation process: I finish writing the songs and the script. The script then hangs out in my computer for about five months until I get an email from the fantastic Tina White, assistant to Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., provost/senior vice president for academic affairs, about something called a “Provost Faculty Research Grant.” I apply for this grant explaining that I’d like to research if it’s possible to craft a piece of theater that is intentionally about God, but to do it in a way that is brutally honest, and filled with the truth of the human/Christian experience. Our provost generously awarded me the grant, and with the funds we developed the first full production of the show on campus at FPU.

I didn’t know what would happen, but I did know the show had been affecting me emotionally since completing the script. I would get visions of how scenes or moments were supposed to be staged or played, then be in tears at the thought of how the Holy Spirit might move through those moments. I had a vision of people getting saved after watching this show. I hoped that would happen.

The initial run of the show had people in tears every night, and many audience members came up after and told me they felt the show was anointed and through it, God was going to do something big. People would bring up elements about the show that really stunned or moved them. Many of these moments were not things I put into the script intentionally, but instead were completely Sprit-inspired. One man, now a friend, Kevin Pranger, told me he brought a group of elders from his church and after the show, once they got out into the parking lot, one of the elders broke down and said to Kevin: “thank you so much for bringing me.”

We invited pastors/church staff to come for free to see if The Adam Bomb would be something they’d like to bring to their church. A few took us up on our offer, and we ended up touring the show to churches over the summer of 2019. We were stunned, and immensely blessed by what God did. Over the summer, at least eight people made decisions to give their lives to Jesus immediately following the show. The vision that started in my apartment, with a song, then a remembered inspiration to “create something about Adam and Eve,” bloomed into a vehicle for salvation. I am so beyond honored the Lord has allowed me to be part of this vehicle and has let me see his power in action.

So why am I telling you this? Firstly, to encourage you! When God inspires us, we may be tempted to ignore what he’s saying due to fear or doubt, but I believe his inspiration is intentional. He wants us to develop something sweet out of the inspiration he gives us. In addition, he also wants what we develop to spread the kingdom. Maybe there’s a relationship you’ve been struggling in, and there are some hard things you feel the Lord wants you to say, or maybe there’s a book you’ve always wanted to write, but have been too afraid. Whatever the task, if we invite the Holy Spirit to be part of it, to be at the heart of our business, he will not disappoint. Are you ready to spread Christ’s Kingdom?

Secondly, many of us may be capable of attaining the world’s definition of greatness on our own, but true greatness, true fulfilment and wealth are found in surrender. So often, creating something seems like an act of building, of iron-clad wills rising up and achieving something impressive, but I am learning that putting those things aside, and instead asking: “Holy Spirit, would you create through me right now? Would you get me out of the way so you can speak?” will lead us above the place of worldly greatness, beyond high esteem and acclaim and into the heavenly realm—where lives are being changed, and hearts are turning from death to life, in Jesus name…are you ready to spread Christ’s Kingdom? Invite him in, and go!

Connections
Mark Tyler Miller, MFA,

Mark Tyler Miller, MFA,

Assistant Professor, Program Director, Theater