I have two pictures to share this week. They are both from our Christmas In The City Production. The first pic is from the year 2019.
In this moment, I am at the end of doing an original song I had written with my friend Bill Coleman many years earlier called “Take My Stand.” My youngest son Baylon is in the background waving the Christian flag. Little known fact, my son Baylon was never supposed to be part of that song or even be in that picture. I had never planned for him to be in the show or the song that year.
A couple of weeks prior to the actual show, we were rehearsing the song at a band practice. Baylon happened to be at the practice. He took a picture of me onstage singing the song and texted it to me that night. On the text he wrote, “Me in 2035.” When I saw it, I was immediately moved to tears. Until that point, I never really knew anything I ever did onstage really impacted any of my boys. To them, I’ve never been anything other than “Dad,” and that has always been enough for me.
Baylon never asked to be in the show. When I got his text about “2035,” I prayed about it, and then I asked him if he wanted to be in that particular song “Take My Stand.” I wanted him to know that he didn’t have to wait until 2035 to have an impact for the Gospel, he could do it now. Sure, hopefully he is part of the future of the Church, but he and every other child like him are also part of the “now” of the Church as well. They have as much to say about Jesus as anyone today, sometimes more, and that matters.
Baylon waved that flag proudly and with force each night of Christmas In The City that year, as we discussed before putting him in that piece. My prayer is that as his faith grows, one day, he will look back on this moment and remember that it matters to “take a stand” for Christ in this world…probably now more than ever.
But here’s the other little known fact about this picture and the text Baylon sent me prior to it. It also scared me to death. That text Baylon sent made me frighteningly aware of the weight of any and every moment that God gives me before anyone or any audience. I have never shied away from any of those moments. I feel I have been called to them, and quite undeservedly for most. I am aware of that, and I am left undone and feeling unfit to be in many of these moments. It has been a constant source of tension in my prayer life with God. “God, I know me…and I wouldn’t pick me.” That is why the text Baylon sent me scared me. What if I screw it up? What if I let him down? What if I fail to be what he thinks I am? There’s no possible way I’ll be able to live up to the expectations he had for me the night he took notice of me on stage and sent me that text. That leads me to the second picture.
The second picture was taken five years earlier at our very first Christmas In The City. It is also of my youngest son of Baylon and I. But this picture is off the stage, right after the show ended.
Someone captured this moment. It is one of my favorite moments. It’s just me being “Dad.” No failed expectations, no duties, no spotlights, no running the risk of offending anyone or letting anyone down…just me...broken, some good, some bad, but resting in the fact that I am loved, not abandoned, and covered by grace. It is an “offstage,” “out of the spotlight” moment, displaced from the pressure to be something you’re not sure you could ever be for anyone. But it is moments like these that give you the courage you need to go back into the daring beauty of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ publicly. These moments remind you that it’s your brokenness that God sometimes uses most vividly to display His strength and grace through you to others.
As Christmas comes rushing into the midst of the despair of 2020, we need the hope it offers this year more than ever. But we need to reminded why Christmas came to begin with and why it comes every year. You and I have a sin nature. It is stubborn, willful, self-centered, and demands to be served and satisfied. Under the right circumstances, it won’t take much for us to make a horrible mistake and do the wrong thing. We may not want to, we may try not to do so, but we will blow it…because we have a sin nature.
The Bible tells us in the book of Romans that we all entered the world with this sin nature. But the beauty is that Matthew 1:20-21 says that God entered the world to take away our sin nature and save us from ourselves. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Christmas is the time of year we commemorate that fact and remind ourselves that God can make everything new.
That is why we should have grace in forgiving each other because Christ first forgave us. We are all prone to blow it and let each other down. Christmas reminds us that grace can overcome. That is why I love the Christmas In The City Production. On the surface, the music, the drama, the dance, the creative art will spellbind. But more than anything, I assure you, the most spellbinding message being put forth is simply a slew of broken, struggling people who discovered grace, mercy, and freedom from being dominated by their sin nature, and are doing their best to try and convey that message to any who may need to hear that God can make everything new again, no matter how bad it may seem. When that happens, the spotlight goes to its proper place…Jesus…always.