Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Beauty of Grace...

It has been a long, long while since I wrote a new piece for this blog-- I technically have not since February. It's time for some new words.

As many of you know, the past two nights have held a lot of beauty for me. On Thursday, April 1, I got to go to a Jon Foreman show that had been booked just the day before (for those of you who don't know, Jon Foreman is the lead singer of Switchfoot who also does solo stuff and has another side project with a guy from Nickel Creek). Jon Foreman is one of my heroes. If you pay attention to me on facebook at all, you've seen me quote him. For that matter, if you read this blog, you've seen me quote him. If you've been around me in person, you've quite possibly heard me mention him as well. To get to see him was one of those wild, storybook things that should have happened in someone else's life.

It was a small room, but it was packed long before Jon came in (he was 45 minutes late). And then it was just the room and the one guitar and our voices, close together, hanging thick on the air. Between songs there was often a breathless quiet, reaching towards sound and song. It was one of the best concert experiences I've ever had, because of the closeness and the songs and the words that were spoken.

Jon had already done far more than necessary (he had actually set the show up and offered to play for free, despite his hectic schedule). But afterwards he stayed to talk to some of us. I got to go and give one of my heroes and role models a hug. And even in the brief moments we had to say hello and goodbye, I felt an awe much like disbelief. I was shaking for a few hours afterwards, more because I couldn't believe it had happened than anything else.

The next day, I headed out to a Skillet and TobyMac show with two siblings, two friends from school, and our awesome friend Kate who is staying with us for the next two weeks. We got to the venue, and I immediately got to say hello to another friend who was also coming for the concert. A few hours of waiting in line followed. When the doors finally opened, the ushers weren't sure what to do with me at first (I had a spot in the front pit area, but it wasn't a VIP ticket), but eventually I was led up to the front and behind the barrier where I got a spot at the very front. I hadn't been that close at a Skillet show since my first, nearly two years ago now.

House of Heroes opened the night with four songs that felt far too short, as I knew they would. Even for an opening band, the set felt too short. When I heard Skillet's intro starting, I felt the usual intense adrenaline rush. The rest of their set was pure joy for me, which was more welcome than words can express after the stress of my last Skillet concert. I was so close, and I was having fun screaming the words along and headbanging and jumping. John Cooper saw me and starting laughing, and he pointed directly at me. He made eye contact with me and pointed at me several more times during the night, probably partly because I was very noticeable as one of the few Panheads in middle of a group of TobyMac fans.

TobyMac's set was fun, though for me I was ready for it to be over about a third of the way through. He is an excellent performer, but I don't really go to concerts because of the entertainment aspect of it, so I didn't really connect to it as much as the others did. However, it was fun to get to help carry TobyMac as he crowd surfed-- twice. That's one plus to having a spot in the pit. I had never had the chance to participate in crowd surfing before, and it was a first that was definitely a lot of fun and built up the energy in the room.

All of that feels a bit long for simply an introduction. It feels like it could be its own separate blog post: I could wrap it up here, say "I was given awesome moments and music," end with some encouragement or resolution that would make me feel like I'd done the two concerts justice. But I don't feel that would fit just now, particularly not since midnight wandered by 15 minutes ago, and I am now writing this on Easter.

I think more than anything else, these past two nights have reminded me to hope. They have reminded me that hiding and running only work for so long before God sends love to find you. When you think about it, that is the entire concept of Good Friday, of Easter-- the world rebelled. Humanity ran and hid in the darkness, clutching their own emptiness tight and refusing to let go. And so God sent hope to find us, in the form of Love. Jesus lived and died for love-- and He came back to life for love. And it is incredibly unright and unfair and undeserved. Grace always looks like that, which is part of what makes it so beautiful.

I spent most of my life thinking that grace was something to be earned or uncovered, that I had to somehow track down mercy if I ever wanted to be whole. I believe now that that is wrong. We don't find grace. Grace finds us. It tracks us down, breaks through walls, runs over stains, crawls through broken windows, and finds us when we least expect it. The only thing we have to do is say yes.

And I guess maybe I'm thinking about this because I have been once again struck by how unfair it is. Here's a bit of honesty for you: February and March were two of the most confusing and painful months of my life, and I can't talk about why. However, it was all my fault. And as I found myself stripped down to operating on just a shadow of who I should have been, I didn't feel like the kind of person who should get a hug from Jon Foreman or get to sit at the very front of a Skillet show. And quite bluntly, I really don't deserve all that. It's tempting for me to look around and say that everyone else deserves joy so much more than I do. But grace doesn't work like that. Grace has an odd tendency to track me down in the darkest nights and sing hope to me through the words of a song.

Remember today that grace will always be there to find you again. Jesus's love in stepping into our world promises that much. Don't be afraid to say yes. Don't be afraid to let grace light you up with joy again. It's God's beautiful, crazy plan to bring our dead hearts to life again.

And that gives me hope. Happy Easter.

- Elraen -


Liz said...

this is beautiful. like you ♥

just remember, even if you don't feel like you can talk about things, 1. God hears you && is only going to love you, never despise you. 2. i'm always willing to listen should you ever decided that you can/would like to talk about it.

love you dear. ♥

Anonymous said...

That beautiful post really spoke to me. Thank you. *hugs* -- Angel