I agree. That's my friend Travis. I love him. But sometimes he is a little strange. I have pictures of us from the road that make me laugh before I even get to them in the picture album. I laugh just knowing they are there and they exist, they tell a million stories and carry a million memories with them. This is one of those pictures. A picture is such a powerful image.
I just got back from the Phil Wickham concert in Dallas and my heart is full. I had a plan of what I would say in these blogs as the week went on but tonight made my heart leap in a different direction.
Just a normal Tuesday night. On Tuesdays a local church has a worship service for young adults called The Porch and tonight Phil Wickham, our label mate, was there to do a concert. I was expecting to do the normal concert thing. Go support him. Sit. Listen. Look at his pedals and how well he transitions from song to song and when he takes breaks to drink water (I try and watch for this with all artists because I am convinced there is a more graceful way to do it than I do). Part of me was there to judge. What does he say on stage? What can I steal??? Is he funny, deep, engaging?
I am just being honest here. I am either a critic or a die hard fan when it comes to concerts. So I suppose tonight I was there leisurely as a critic, fan, and fellow musician just wanting to watch someone else do their thing. I wasn't there for much else. And I imagine most of the young adults getting off a long day of work weren't expecting too much either besides a good show and a chance to sit and take things in. No work required of me. Just do something for us, entertain us. That was my mindset. But the night veered of course.
Instead this intense and beautiful time of worship emerged. Right there in the middle of the concert. He began this prayer in between songs thanking God for the beauty of the church. He went on and on about the church. I opened my eyes. I thought he would be looking at me. Like he had read my blog ahead of time and was giving me these great feed lines so he could be the star of this entry, throwing me some bones for what to say next. I was sure God had told him to talk about the church just for me and that when I opened my eyes he would give me a wink and whisper..."Amen for church week, write away little blogger!!!" I was sure that this was totally staged...why else would he, out of all the topics in the world to praise God for, choose to relish in the beauty of the church body? I knew when I opened my eyes he'd be giving me a goofy grin and he was playing "the game" (the game is: your friends give you some crazy word or topic before you go on stage and your goal is to work that in...it keeps things entertaining, trust me).
But when I opened my eyes, his eyes were shut and he was pouring out his heart. This was no game, this was what was on his heart. And I was amazed at God. Because everything I have heard and seen this week has been directly related to the church, God has chosen to speak to me, and was speaking to me again through Phil. Phil was thanking God for the beauty of the moment. For people who were tired and coming to expect a concert and who instead were choosing worship. He was praising God for community. For the family. The body of Christ on this earth. He was calling us brothers and sisters and asking us to worship our God in that place with one voice, one spirit, one heart. He was evoking the scripture that God promises to dwell among us, that when two or more are gathered in His name His spirit actually comes down and dwells among us and breathes into us and finds favor and is pleased with the sweet song that is coming to His ears. The prayer went on and on. With an ebb and flow in his voice, Phil brought us, the unexpected concert goers, to the thrown of our Savior who just wanted to meet us tonight and wanted us to meet with Him.
When I opened my eyes the picture I saw was the church. People standing. Arms lifted. People kneeling, hearts humbled. People praying for one another. Others singing their own melodies of worship. All engaged. 1,000 people, together, coming to God with full hearts, broken hearts, searching hearts, desperate hearts, excited hearts, joyful hearts; uniting, for an entire hour under the banner of being God's beloved children. We were united by worshipping our savior together. Singing, not quietly or shyly, but passionately with all that we had within us as we caught a glimpse of God together. In this room. On this normal Tuesday.
That. That is the picture of the church. What it is supposed to be. The root of it all. At the heart of it all the church is a place to see Jesus and to respond. I opened my eyes to see a picture that spoke more than a thousand words, it spoke a million words, centuries worth of words. It said, yes, I will continue. I will roll through time and I will call God's children in, and I will be a place where people connect to the God of the universe, where people unite, where people find life, where people start over, where people come on a random Tuesday night expecting coffee and music and will instead find power and strength to live and breath and will fall to their knees as the spirit of God shows them but a glimpse of Himself. I am the church Jenny. This is the church. The beauty...not the beast.
And this, this is a picture I will not soon forget.