The stadium was packed. Andre, Jeff, Me, and My Dad had all come to the Promise Keepers rally together. In reality we were dragged there by our Dad… he didn’t have to pull too hard because we loved him and knew he had our best in mind, but we were dragged nonetheless. I remember that I brought a friend, I can’t remember if it was Chador not… Chadwas my first choice to take to these kinds of things (no offense to any other friends who read this… but I was 12, so get over it.) Chad was an awesome friend.
I remember thinking, “More people go to Saints games than to Jesus games.” (While that is a convicting statement and an oddly cogent thought for a 12 year old, that’s not the point of this blog.) So, I sat next to my brother Jeff and Chad. On the other side of Jeff was my Dad. Dre was on the other side of Dad. The stadium smelled funny… it was that wierd clean locker room smell, you know, the one that lasts until someone walks in and changes after football practice. It’s an odd oder of concrete and bouty fabric softener. I remember a man came up and gave a rousing speech about manliness, there were cheers and laughs. Chad and I were doing dumb junior high boy stuff. Then the musician came up. He walked on stage and the drums began to play. I honestly don’t remember the first two songs, I’m sure they were great, but the third is forever ingrained into my head and my heart.
Dad loved to sing, mostly beautifuly obscure hymns he loved from Africa and occassionally an off key rendention of Kenny Rogers or Neil Dimond. He was a huge man, who could throw you over a car, and who loved to sing. Just saying, theres nothing sissy about singing… so lets just drop those stereo types for now… deal? Jeff and Dre also have a talent for singing and are pretty stinking amazing men. Anyhow, in the stadium, I had been fiddling around with the back of the seat in front of me, bemoaning that I was here in the Super Dome listening to another sermon and singing more songs rather than playing basketball with my friends. So in my half attentive, ignorant stupor, I looked over at my Dad. I saw his face light up as he began the song,
“My Jesus, My Savior,
Lord there is none like You!
All of my days,
I want to praise,
The wonder of Your
Tears rolled down his cheeks as the Dome echoed with the voices of men who love Jesus. It was as if Dad had joined the chorus of the angels and was screaming out praise to God. The Promise Keepers Rally in New Orleans was one of the worst attended rallies in PK history. But at that moment, you could feel the victory of the cross over a dark and dying world. It must have been how Gideon felt when he and his 300 screamed “For the Sword of the LORD!” in Judges 7 and won victory over the Mideanites. I felt the sound grow and build as I watched my Dad. I was transfixed on his face as he began to shout the words:
Shout to the Lord
All the Earth let us sing
Power and Majesty
Praise to the King
Mountains bow down
And the Seas will Roar
At the Sound
Of Your Wonderful Name!
I sing for Joy at the Work of Your hands
Forever I love You, Forever I stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have
Jeff, Dad, and Dre were singing there hearts out (I don’t remember looking back at Chad… but I am sure he was too) . It was beautiful. It was messy. It was real, open heart worship! I can’t help but think of that image every time I hear that song. It can be at church, on the radio, or just in my head. On the way home, Dad hummed that song and said, “I love that song.”
Flash forward a few years and you have a pip-squeek teenager who thinks he is AWESOME (me) going to another similar type rally (may have been promise keepers… I don’t remember) with his pip-squeek teenager youth group inTowson, Maryland. Jeff decided to come too, which now I understand was an act of love and mercy towards me, since he was waaaaayyy too cool for us. I stood next to my brother, not by choice… I am almost certain he arranged it, but to this day I cannot prove it. We were having a wonderful time the speakers were incredibly uplifting and convicting and the music was fantastic! Then, they played that song. Shout to the LORD came on and I broke. It was as if my Dad, who had passed away by that point, was worshiping with us again, this time from heaven. This time, I was exposed before God. This time I understood what it felt like to join the chorus of angels. My heart poured out of my chest and I even began to confess sins to my brother, who prayed for me and encouraged me to overcome. I realized that everything on earth and heaven praises God, except rebellious us. Trees, rocks, stars, grass, even the dirt praises better and with more consistency than us. My glorious King Jesus received praise from a crowded stadium filled with broken people who long to worship the King. On the way home, I hummed that song and said, “I love that song.”
Now I strive to worship this way all the time. This is a little difficult because I am still incredibly self-conscious in corporate worship. Never wanting to be a distraction I usually try to go to the back of the room or play guitar in the front. (Evidently, no one cares if the guitarist dances, screams, or cries… that’s not weird, it’s just good worship leading- not so sure about that but eh, What do you do?) Anyhow… no cool applications for you today, Just thoughts. Go worship the King.