There are people out there who believe that God is done talking. I am not one of those people. I’m not a person who believes that when the books of the Bible were decided on, that God said, “Welp, there you go! That’s everything I’ve got for you… Good luck.” I believe God talks to us all the time–whether we realize it or not. And not in a creepy “God told me that Ted Cruz is supposed to be president” sort of way… But I believe God still speaks… sometimes in the smallest of voices and the whisperiest of winds. In the most mundane moments of our lives, we experience a deep sense of “THIS is like THAT.” And the depth of the truth contained in those moments almost always leaves us in tears. Well, it always leaves ME in tears, at least. This morning was one of those times. And–as so often is the case–the vehicle for the voice of God in my life early this morning was a YouTube video.
So, before I show you the video, I want to say this whole “voice of God” thing–it’s not always actual words. Sometimes it’s just a realization. Sometimes it’s just something clicking inside of you, where before that moment you thought something was true, but after that moment nothing has ever sounded like more of a lie than that thing you used to believe. Like spending your whole life believing you’re worthless, and then–through whatever process–you realize that you are as loved as anything has ever been… And after that point, you can’t endure another moment in a place that still believes that lie. And you can’t tolerate surrounding yourself with people who don’t get it. And you just want to tell all of those people who are still mired there–in that dark place of unworthiness and despair–that you’ve got some good news for them.
Anyway, here’s the video. It’s a short clip from a Paramore concert in Rio Di Janeiro. It’s a clip from a song called “Misery Business,” and it’s only two minutes long, so I’m going to need you to watch it. The clip starts with the band pulling a fan up onto the stage. She lets out a primal scream, and for a moment, she holds the entire world in her hands. She is given a microphone, and she’s invited to sing a song whose words she knows by heart–words not even Alzheimers nor any dementia could ever pry from her brain. She dances so hard her shorts nearly fall from her hips. She sets her glasses down, and her hero picks them up and puts them on her own face. And in a moment of pure joy and confidence, she gives the chorus everything she has… And as she leaps in the air, her body–the one about which she’s momentarily forgotten any sense of self-consiousness–betrays her. She clumsily tumbles to the ground. And what might have been one of the coolest moments in her life, hangs on the precipice of embarrassment, humiliation, and shame… But watch what happens next.
I’m serious. Watch the video. Maybe watch it again. And listen for the voice of God, speaking to your soul, saying, “This is how I love you!” Because now–for me–that is all I can hear every time I watch this video. I don’t know much about this band. I don’t know their theology, and I don’t really care. All I need to know I see in that video. There were probably people in the crowd who laughed and made fun of her. In that same situation, some might have hurried over to her, as she laid on her back in front of thousands of people, and quickly tried to help her to her feet… in order to minimize her humiliation. And her shame.
But instead, what we see is a Love that rushes to the ground with us.
We see a Love that experiences what we have experienced.
We see a Love that knows how it feels to be humiliated. And broken.
We see a Love that encourages instead of trying to shame us.
We see a Love that gives us beauty for ashes.
We see a Love that lays itself down next to us, and encourages us to keep on rocking out.
We see a Love that declares, “This is my favorite person we’ve ever had on stage.”
We see an Incarnational Love. A Love that screams into the microphone, “EMMANUEL! GOD IS WITH US!!” And leaps into the air…
And then, I want you to notice what happens next… The guys playing bass and lead guitar see what Hayley has instinctively done, and they think, “Oh. Yeah. Of COURSE! That’s the only thing to do right here…” And following her lead, they recognize those same instincts inside of their own hearts, and they follow the example of the one who rushed to the ground. Because when you see the truth, no one has to convince you. You just know.
Maybe you’ve been presented with the god who can’t wait to judge your performance… the god who is angry when we lose our balance… the god who withholds his love until we get it right. And if you find it hard to believe in, I get it… I don’t believe in that God either. I believe in the God who runs to meet us. I believe in the God who touches the ones nobody else wants to touch. I believe in the God who loves us so much that–when we fall and make an ass out of ourselves–God rushes to the ground, lies down beside us, and keeps right on rocking out… so that there’s not even a MOMENT when we feel like we’re all by ourselves. And other people see it, they recognize it as true, and they lie down as well… Until the one who has fallen comes to her senses. And what’s REALLY cool is that when you realize God loves us in our mess… In our clumsiness… In our brokenness… All of a sudden, you can walk off that stage without one ounce of shame. MAN! That sounds like some good news…
I *LOVE* writing this blog. I’m going to keep on doing it. If you feel like helping support me, you can totally do that by Becoming A Patron or giving on PayPal. Michele Cox did. And somewhere far away, Michele is probably feeling that feeling people get when they did something they know is really cool and kind and generous. What a great feeling…