It was a late night last night. Actually my nights are usually pretty late anyway, but this time it was away-from-home late! I took my wife and 13 year-old son to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert, and made it home around 11:30. That's too late for a school night! Oh, but what a night.
I got there after a long, somewhat emotional day, half uncertain if I was ready for the concert. I probably wasn't. God, of course in His wisdom, used that.
A little background - Steven Curtis Chapman has been my son's favorite Christian singer since he was aware of Christian music (most of his life). He had seen most of the rest of his favorites over the past few years, but finally Chapman came to town. Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin were also on the bill. Whenever we go to a show, my boys always want to know which act will be playing first, second, etc. Ol' Dad, the seasoned concert veteran of over 200 shows, is quick to chime in his expertise. So I did. "This is easy to figure out, son. Chris Tomlin is mostly a worship-type artist, so he'll go first. Then Casting Crowns will do their popular stuff, then after a short break we'll finally see Steven Curtis."
We made it in to our seats just as the lights were coming down. I look up and see a short blonde guy with a guitar strolling out on stage -- yeah, Chapman came out first to do a short song as a prayer for the evening. Then he introduced Casting Crowns! Talk about making the old man look foolish! Chapman and his band even set up on a corner of the stage to play a hits medley during the set change! So much for not seeing the big name until the second half! I've got to admit, it takes a bit of humility to do that kind of stuff.
Anyway, I'm in my seat for Casting Crowns and God did something -- opened my ears or my eyes or cleared my head or maybe just ripped my heart open, I don't know. But He really allowed me to experience the music, especially the lyrics, as communication and not simply songs on the radio. It sure didn't hurt that Casting Crowns sing songs with such powerful lyrics. They sang about the weakness of the church to reach out, about chasing after materialism, about failing to pray, about being pulled in different directions, and about God's love for an insignificant man such as I. I really don't like crying at concerts, but it seemed as if there was always a tear on my cheek. My heart was ripped open and I was prepared to worship, to sing and to have a little fun.
Afterward, the cold air outside brought a bracing dose of reality. And while exiting the parking lot onto a divided avenue, I looked up just in time to see a car run right into the back of another car who appeared to be stopped in the street. I was in a line of traffic so I couldn't stop. Of course there were policemen everywhere directing traffic, so I figured that was taken care of. And I saw one of the drivers get out of her car, so it must not have been too serious. But between the chill of the night and the sight and sound of two vehicles colliding, I was back to reality pretty quickly.
But the Spirit of God is still here. I thank Him for His continued presence and for the reminder that He will still rip hearts open to clear the way to come inside.