On Saturday night, January 11th, I took Josh, Adam, and their friend Sam to the Rock and Worship Roadshow in Spokane. (Arrty was going to go, but had to stay home and play Noah in the flooded basement.) I bought the tickets for the boys for Christmas and we were all excited about it. But I have to admit, that once the time actually rolled around I was wondering if it wasn't meant to be. There was the flooded basement and backyard. There was the driving to Spokane in 5:00 traffic. There was the taking three teenage boys to a sold out arena by myself. All of those things were enough to make me second guess my decision. But the boys were excited about going and under all the anxiety about it, I really wanted to go, too.
So we loaded up the van and headed west. The line to get into the parking lot was long and slow. We decided to park at the back of the parking lot and walk to the arena. Which was the right idea, because the rest of the parking lot was crazy. Once we got in and found our seats I had time to take a breath and take it all in. I know that there are bigger arenas than the one in Spokane, but there are a lot of people in there at a sold out show. A lot of people. Which led to some deep breathing and self talk to keep myself calm. Once I located all the exits, formed a plan of escape if I needed it, and convinced myself that I wouldn't go deaf from one concert even though I forgot my earplugs, I relaxed.
And now here's the part where I began to realize that I may never again go to a secular concert. The show started with a prayer. At which time I recalled the verse from Matthew that says,
"And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
Well, there were certainly two or more of us gathered. And we were there because of Jesus. So, guess what! He was there. Maybe he was the guy sitting next to me. Or the little old lady three rows down. Or the teenage girl in front of me. Or maybe he was just everywhere. In every heart. And His peace that passes understanding came over me in a group of thousands of people where I would have normally been fighting a panic attack the whole time. He was there.
When the show started, I admit that I did wonder what I had gotten myself into. The first band, We As Human*, was loud. And hard. And I confess to asking Jesus right then and there how he felt about that. But then I listened harder to try to hear the words through the noise. And there He was...Jesus. And no matter what it sounds like, He loves to hear us sing His name. And throughout the night I continued to be convicted that everyone, no matter how they look or what they wear or how they choose to praise the Lord, every single person is loved by Jesus unconditionally and completely. And any one of those people is free to love Him in return.
After that, the night just kept getting better and better. The second band was The Neverclaim. They have kind of a southern rock sound. And I could understand most of the lyrics, which was a plus. Their song Mighty Jesus is amazing! That's when I finally knew I was in the right place.
Next was Royal Tailor. I kept thinking that they were the "boy band" of the bunch. There was even a moment of synchronized dance moves. They were really good, too. And I was surprised to learn after the concert that they were among my boys' favorites of the night.
Before or after Royal Tailor (my memory is foggy from the extreme volume), was Andy Mineo. A hip-hop, skateboarding, rapping artist from New York. He rode his skateboard on stage which was really weird when I couldn't see his feet but just him floating across the stage. He rapped about Jesus. And he jumped about Jesus. And he had thousands of us in the audience doing it, too! Josh especially liked him since he is the hip-hop fan in our house.
Then we saw a worship team from Columbia called Soulfire Revolution. They had a unique sound and a more intimate performance on just the front of the stage.
One of the headliners was Third Day. I had heard a few of their songs on Christian radio and had certainly heard of the band, but didn't really know what to expect live. I was pleasantly surprised by their performance. They were easily my favorite band of the night. The lead singer has the kind of voice I like to listen to. Deep and smooth with a little bit of a growl. And their whole sound was perfect for me. And then they did a short acoustic set while the stage was being reset. When they led the audience in an acoustic/acapella version of Blessed Assurance, I was sold. I loved it so, so much. Gotta love the acapella!
The last act of the night was Skillet. (First of all, where did they get their name. I must google it.) Skillet rocks! That's all I can say. In every sense of the word. I'm usually not a big fan of the hard alternative style of music, but there's something about Skillet that made me okay with it. They are great performers, too. They had a violinist and cello player who were amazing. And a stage with sections that would rise with different performers standing on them. Lights and smoke created a real "rock" atmosphere. I think I will check out some more of their music soon.
So now back to the reasons why I may never go to another secular concert.
Reason 1: Prayer. Nothing makes me feel more like I belong than prayer. And I can honestly say that I've never felt like I belonged at most of the other concerts I've gone to. But I belonged that night. We were all there for the same reason: to rock and worship.
Reason 2: Worship. I can't even explain the feeling of worshiping with thousands of people. It had less to do with the music or the singers than with the presence of God being there. You don't get that at secular concerts.
Reason 3: Security. I didn't have to worry about what was going to flash on the screens for my teenage sons to see. Or what was going to be blasted at them from the speakers. I'm not naive. I know what's in the world. But I will try, for however long I can, to let them be kids and keep them, when it's in my power, from being bombarded with worldly sights and sounds.
Reason 4: Safety. I didn't have to worry about the people around me. Knowing that we were all brothers and sisters gave me a sense of safety that made my night easier. And since they weren't selling beer, I didn't have to worry about having it spilled on me by the guy sitting behind me. (It's happened before.)
Reason 5: Jesus. That's reason enough for me.
All in all, the night was a roaring success. The boys had a ball and I was encouraged to see that all kinds of people who praise God in all kinds of ways are all in this whole Christianity thing together. All of us Third Day people can stand beside the We As Human people the Andy Mineo people and worship together. And isn't that how it's supposed to be. Because I sure think it is.
*The way We As Human had their name written on their set was very hard to read. So until about halfway through the concert when I saw it written more clearly, I thought they were called Weashu Man.