Clear the Stage
What strange and extraordinary experiences.
It began as I visited with Jimmy Needham a couple of weeks ago. It is one thing to see the stage persona of a performer, to see the image and wonder what the reality is. It is another thing altogether to sit down with a young man and realize he is not performing at all, he’s giving expression to truth as God reveals it to him. It’s the difference between talking to a celebrity and talking to a prophet.
And so I wept as I heard him sing:
“Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure You must take to crush the idols.
Jerk the pews & all the decorations, too,
Until the congregations few, then have revival.
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends,
Until you’re broken for your sins, you can’t be social.
Then seek the Lord and wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward, so just be hopeful.”
“Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper.
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister.
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.
Then read the word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.”
“’Cause you can sing all you want to; Yes, you can sing all you want to;
You can sing all you want to; And still get it wrong.
Worship is more than a song.”
“We must not worship something that’s not even worth it.
Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it.”
“Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.
And anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
And anything that I give all my love is an idol.”
I knew this was more than a challenge to me. Or to us. Or to anyone. These words represented the heart-wrenching experience of grasping God, refusing to let go until He blesses us, and then feeling a touch so powerful that we walk with a certain brokenness the rest of our lives.
That’s where I am, too.
Then came the Day of Prayer at White Oak Conference Center last week. It was meant to be a time of prayer for My Hope with Billy Graham. For some, it may have been that. For me, it became something else. I began to take all this brokenness to God … and connect with my Creator, Redeemer and Friend in a way that I can hardly describe. It was as though my Father came to talk to me and everything else faded away and melted into the background. My body was there, I know, but I was in a different place. Somehow, I found myself in God’s presence.
Then those experiences led to this past weekend, when we partnered with Hagood Avenue Baptist Church to host D-NOW weekend. I looked out over two congregations under one roof, loving each other, loving God together, and I didn’t really see people. I saw God.
Friends, I have a better than average vocabulary, but I really don’t know how to talk about these things. These are things that words can’t express. These are groanings that can’t be uttered. God is in our midst. His Spirit is hovering over the chaos we’ve created. He is giving us beauty for ashes.
Are you sensing this? Can you see this? If not, it’s time for you to clear the stage.