A rainy December night. A theater stage.
“Behold the Lamb”……a brief swallowing; choked back tears….”of God.” I was close enough to see, and felt that clutch in my chest that makes it hard to breathe for a moment; “that takes away our sin.” How many times, I thought. How many shows? How could that love still be so fresh?
From the first note of the evening played and sung, I looked up at each face on the stage, pondering what was going though their minds. Was it just another stop on an endless night of nights? Did it become like an empty ritual? Like the chanting of monks who shut themselves into the walls of a monastery of the mind?
I bought my ticket back in September, thrilled that the Behold the Lamb of God tour was coming as far north as New Hampshire. I live in Maine, about sixty miles north of Portland. My little corner of the map is a long way to make the trip worthwhile for a lone musician, let alone a large group. I did what any normal self-loving person would do. I gave myself a birthday present.
This is a bit of my journey.
Like many of you folks that might read this, I have followed Andrew over the last few years though his epic musical story telling. I don’t really know what else to call it. I’m thankful that they are true stories, because they all lead to the final end of the great story in which we truly do live happily ever after.
I was not even sure I was going to get to the show as the months before it played out; the feast and famine of work and scratching by. I have been on this roller-coaster for a while. Actually; always. I am old enough be to a mother to many in the group, my eldest child being thirty-five. Yet, I am so drawn to each one. It must because I feel so guilty that I didn’t walk with the Lord when I was raising my daughter. I wish she could have the hope that they do. I was always the odd-ball in my family. My parents were hard-working career people who spent their lives in specific, never-changing jobs, and then retiring as career people do. I flew in the complete opposite direction of that. My mother always said that I had the heart of a gypsy, and as an artistic, hands on person that bell still rings true. Add to that the life of being part of a military family, and the seal of the wanderer was stamped on my heart.
I spent my time through my young adult years and into my late thirties, hurdling headlong through life and taking whoever was attached to me on the ride; including husband and children. Years spent sailing hither and yon, horses, music, country life, living in the moment for all the wrong reasons. You know…being the center of my own universe.
When I was thirty-eight years old, I was sitting at a sewing machine at L.L. Bean Manufacturing, working on a piece of luggage. I was listening to a radio station that someone had recommended, as I stitched my way through second shift. It was God’s plan for me. Long story in a nut shell; I answered the call of the Shepherd.
I would like to say that because I had made the choice to finally get on the right bus, that I was also ready to give up the driver’s seat. Baby Christian 101. Now, twenty years later it is still a daily battle even though He has always proven that He is trustworthy. In all ways. The benefits of refining fire are that we let go of the wheel a lot sooner, as the dross of our lives rises to the surface.
The week before the concert, I had pretty much given up. It was a three plus hour drive, and my Land Rover is no Prius in the petrol department. And though I have a circle of friends that are generous, most are living as frugally as I am as winter comes on, so I didn’t include that in my thought process. All of our gas tanks are on “walk” a good part of the time these days. The gypsy’s life is sometimes not so romantic. Especially when you are just a few days shy of fifty-eight.
The night it was down the the wire, I lay in bed exhausted from pursuing the answer in my own strength. I was in a really dark place, and not just because of this; I was enjoying my pity-party. Finally, I asked. Lord…am I supposed to go to this? You already know I have dreamed of it for years now. It’s tomorrow. It is so silly that we feel we need to explain ourselves to the One who created us. Sure makes us feel better, though. I lay there a bit listening to the drizzle on my window, and then started to turn and get more comfortable. That is when I heard that still small voice…. that whisper in your ear; “Your guitar.” Huh? “Your guitar.” The sheep I was counting crashed against the fence. “What about it?” I asked. Silence. I pondered it for about thirty seconds. This is the one material thing that I value. My therapy, my instrument of joy. I love you guys I thought, but………fingers in ears doing the lalalalalala thing, I rolled over and dove in to sleep. Maybe next time.
Saturday morning, December eighth, I woke up feeling a bit disembodied, my dog’s cold nose touching my hand on the edge of my bed. Slowly, this languid peace flowed over me, like I just got out of a perfect jacuzzi. It was that “peace that passes all understanding” jacuzzi. Somewhere, in the watches of the night, it was okay. I had His answer. I took my hands off of the wheel and made it my answer too. I had to trust that this would turn out okay.
I went downstairs and made a pot of my French roast coffee, got into the Word and had a sweet time worshipping the Lamb with my old friend, whose strings were a bit on the tired side. My youngest son has always said that my guitar smells like chocolate. I was inclined to agree with him this quiet morning. The best kind of chocolatey chocolate. I savored it. It was like the best truffle I have ever eaten.
And so a few hours later, I was on the road with my dog in the back for company, with gas in the tank, and my guitar behind the counter at the local pawn shop, waiting to be reclaimed. I am confident that He has a plan for this. He was trustworthy yesterday, He is trustworthy today, and he will be trustworthy each and every day before me.
Finally; Row A, Seat 107.
Behold the Lamb of God… who takes away our sin. Behold the Lamb of God…the light and life of men.
As the tears started down my face, I had my answers.
As I drove home through the rainy night, I knew. I knew that the story will never be just empty words. Each person up on that stage, no matter who it happens to be, has chosen to make the sacrifice of leaving behind home and family to share in the telling; that there may be one person out there listening, who is hearing for the very first time. To share the old, old story; that they know, is true.