Serenity Saturday

We’re off to Universal Studios to take in a concert by Skillet. Not only do they rock, their music is message-filled. Few things in life are better than worship music that makes you headbang in the process.

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“Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and for thousand are to praise the Lord with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.”

1 Chronicles 23:5

Thank You from God

There’s no end to how God continues to show his awesomeness in my life. I am a firm believer that God gets a kick out of showing off how cool He is. I picture Him shouting out to the angels in Heaven. “Guys. Guys. Come over here. Check this out. I am about to totally blow Gil’s mind right now.” And just like that, He opens my eyes to his incredible power and grace, and I am left humbled and feeling an incredible sense that can only be described as “Wow!”

Today was one of those days.

It started off casual and non-descript. On Friday, my daughter made the soccer team at her middle school (fifty four girls tried out and only eighteen made the squad). We didn’t really do anything on Friday evening to celebrate, so I wanted to take her out on Saturday to congratulate her for making the team.

Given Lee and I had plans with our church for Saturday afternoon, the logistics of taking Natalie to brunch got a little complicated and timelines got a little tight. This led to unintended tension between Lee and me, and by the time we got to our church commitment, we were full-on not talking to each other.

The church commitment was to serve as chaperones to an event called Winter Jam, a Christian music event held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa. I really didn’t want to go, but Lee had a particular interest in seeing one of the performers, and so I agreed to go. It was important to Lee, so thus it was important to me.

We arrived at our church at the designated time only to find out the coordinators of the event for our church were stuck in really bad traffic on the highway. Fortunately, given my experiences as a volunteer, I knew how to open the church, and I was able to let the parents and kids that were there into the building (as opposed to all of us standing out in the cold afternoon air).

Our coordinator arrived and we all made our way to the arena. The concert was good, but I will admit I got very tired towards the end. I am not opposed to Christian music per se, but after four hours of it, I was well passed my threshold and I just wanted to go home.

Still, I thought about the string of serendipitous events that led me to be there at that moment – my wife being captivated by the music of Dara Maclean, our church organizing a group to go to the Winter Jam concert, my having knowledge of how to open the church doors and being there while our coordinator was stuck in traffic – and I realized it was God’s way of asking me to be a servant for Him that day. It was His way of saying, “Dude. I know you don’t really want to go to this show. I know you’d rather be home watching the NFL playoffs, but I really need you to serve for me today. I need you to be there for your community and help make a difference in the eyes of your peers and those kids attending the event. I give you so much and don’t ask a lot in return. So I need you to step it up and do this for me.”

It’s an absolute blessing to be presented the opportunity to serve the Lord and others. I was tired and fading into sleepy. My feet hurt, sitting in those arena seats made my knees start to hurt, and I was just about to mentally check out. Then God did His thing.

The closing act at Winter Jam was a band called Skillet. I’d never heard of them before except for what Lee had told me about them. Knowing they were going to be performing, she’d taken some time earlier in the week to listen to their music. She wasn’t impressed much, but she did say I might like them because they sounded a little like the band Rise Against, a band which I thoroughly enjoy listening to.

As they were introduced, I saw an arena full of teens and pre-teens jump with excitement for this band. “Great,” I thought to myself. “This is going to be one of those scream-metal bands that make me want to stab my eardrums with a pencil.” As I prepared for the worst, I was amazed by what came next.

The band Skillet simply ROCKED.MY.FACE.OFF!

They were amazing. They were spectacular. Before I knew it, I was bobbing my head up and down to their music. Lights, fire, pyrotechnics, elevated platforms; this was so different than the other Christian bands that had performed earlier. The analogy is this. Sit and watch a couple of hours of Celine Dione, Keith Urban, and Kelly Clarkson, then close the show out Metallica. THAT was the difference between Skillet and the other performers at Winter Jam. Don’t get me wrong, the other artists were very good, but none of them came close to moving me the way Skillet did. It was loud, over-the-top, amps go to 11, Christian rock and roll …. and it was totally awesome.

At the end of the day, I like to think it was God’s way of saying “thank you” for being there for Him. I know it sounds silly; God telling me “thank you” for serving in His name. But the thing is … He’s awesome like that.