This is a feature I wrote that convicts me everytime I read it. It appeared on the TrueTunes website a few months ago.
Sweaty bodies and the scent of rain filled the sawdust strewn animal barn at the Christian music festival. After being chased by the blowing downpour to the lightning free indoor arena, musicians meandered onto the small stage.
A man with a small girl clasped to his chest stopped in front of a speaker just as one of the guitarists struck a few intense warm-up cords. The toddler jerked and burst into tears. The man looked down, covered the child's ears, and like a salmon swimming upstream, headed toward the back of the huge audience. I huffed, relieved to see that he had "gotten a clue" and decided to put the child's best interest before his desire to be in front of the stage.
Two women behind my family carried on a loud conversation, oblivious to the people who stared at them. Well, actually they bellowed to hear each other over the band. Frustration flooded through me. A child in front of us whined, and his mother told him to stop. He carried on and she finally gave him what he wanted. Then the father and mother engaged in a heated argument over parenting styles. She lost, turned to the white clothed child and chastised him for being dirty.
I leaned over to my daughter and suggested that I should direct them to the parenting information table in the lobby.
As the concert began, the man and the toddler headed back to the stage. He'd draped a blanket over her head, and I shook mine.
I soon focused on the stage as great rock music filled the animal barn. The singer shared parts and pieces of his musical heritage. He'd grown up in the church and had spent a lot of his life going through the motions musically. He didn't understand why the church lacked the overwhelming emotion of the brokenhearted street performers who grabbed his heart. After all, shouldn't Christians be the most grateful, broken-hearted people in the world? Believers are delivered from despair and death by the victory won by Christ, the lover of their souls.
On his journey to find the passion missing in the church, the singer found his voice, capturing the words of God in rock and blues styles of music. The notes of his "signature piece" poured out, and a conversation I'd taken part in months earlier came to mind. A musically talented friend of ours, frustrated with his standstill in the music business, brought up the song the man on the stage sang. The conversation had gone down a negative road. My husband and I had listened to our friend's "expertise" and agreed with him. We didn't "care for" the style of the song.
Pierced, I listened to the music with my heart instead of my mind.
"Who am I?" I thought as the truth of the song and the reality of worship as it was meant to be, swirled around me. My focus was wrong. My attitudes were wrong, so very, very wrong.
How easily I make snap judgments or "discernments." Me, sitting in judgment of the family with the dirty, misbehaving children, the conversationalists, the musicians and the man with the blanket clad child – the man, who now stood with one arm raised to heaven.
God tweaked my heart painfully. How could I pick apart the sacrificial offering of a fellow servant, being a simple servant myself? What difference does it make if I prefer one musical style over another? If a song is written to praise God, using some of God's own words or feelings that wash over the author as God reveals Himself, that song belongs to God. It becomes as sacred as prayer.
I can't redeem anyone's past, or see into anyone's future. Nor can I touch someone's soul without God's heart beating in my own. How could I know if the risk to a child's ears was more or less important than being in the arms of a man who loved her? Maybe God will use the love of music to grasp hold of her heart. Maybe music will be the special connection between the two of them as she grows into a young woman.
God can intervene and heal relationships and maybe the family struggle we witnessed will be eased because of their experience at the concert. A song, whether I like the beat or the words, may grasp a heart that is wandering away from God. A song, sung with a heart that beats with the powerful love of God could accomplish exactly what God desires.
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.