This post is based on Week Five of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.
The popular hip hop artist took the stage as 15,000-plus fans cheered. He danced and jumped and ran the length of the catwalk while dazzling lights, smoke, and fireworks filled the arena. Confetti shot from cannons. Glittery “snow” fell from the rafters. The crowd leaped to their feet, screaming and clapping along with the performers on stage. Multiple jumbo screens flashed rapid images and wowed the crowd. From 7 to 10:45 p.m., ear-splitting music rang out.
Everything was designed to arouse the crowd. I paid premium prices for nosebleed seats, because I love the messages in this singer-songwriter’s lyrics. A passionate Christian, he’s more like a preacher as he expresses deep and poetic spirituality. I’m encouraged by the way he turns his brokenness into praise. During one number, he knelt with his head bowed as he sang about the death of his son earlier this year.
When I consider the Call of the King meditation, I struggle with relating to royalty. But this popular artist gives me a relevant comparison, because I eagerly follow this performer’s life and story. If I could alleviate his suffering or imitate his ability to draw others to Christ despite personal tragedy, I know I would be doing Christ proud.
For one song, the star was handed an enormous flag—the kind that cheerleaders run with to lead a football team onto the field. When he waved that flag over the audience, an emblem for Christ unfurled. People cheered wildly for the Lord. Praise and worship for God shook the rafters of the sports venue. Not your typical church service! But it was very much a crowd of ecstatic Christians loving their Savior. When performers quoted Scripture, the applause was deafening. I thrilled to be under that standard.
I’m stirred by this man’s courage in the face of trials. Instead of giving up his ministry during his raw grief, here he is serving as a witness of Christ’s way of living.
I want to imitate such self-giving. I want to be so certain of my call that I serve as a magnet for others to step out in faith and accept the banner of Christ. I find it very inspiring to be dancing freely in a crowd of people who all drop their inhibitions to adore Jesus, hands raised. We don’t attend the same churches nor believe exactly alike, but we connect over shared faith, not pointing to our differences. We are the body of Christ.
I have no idea what the commitments are of the others in the crowd. I see parents with children, teens in groups, people with shirts emblazoned with the performer’s name and logos. Here I see tangibly that I’m part of something bigger. That’s where I want to be: knowing that I am not alone as I face the challenges of living this Christian life. In this arena, I can’t help but get excited about Christ’s engaging vision for us and the world.
I wait to hear Christ’s continuing call to me as I’m wondering if I should embrace a new ministry or stick with the commitments I already have. I don’t want to be deaf to God’s call.
It’s nice to know that Jesus can get through to me even when I’ve put in earplugs like I did during this concert. Still the music and the message came through loud and clear.
Jesus, will you please speak blatantly into my heart as I pray to be receptive to you? I’m not sure where I’m headed or what lies in my future, but I trust that with you, it’s going to be great.