Three performances and a rehearsal in twelve hours. That's what today was contained, but not what it was about. That sounds a little strange to say, but you almost had to be there to understand, and I don't think any number of words I could possibly write would do justice to the meaning.
As I mentioned previously, this was the final day of my church's Christmas program, and this year's theme was Hope. The songs carried the theme. The testimonies echoed it. Over and over again, hope resounded in this program. The choir would talk about experiences shared with them by people that had attended, and even their own interactions. Truly, there was a feeling of palpable hope lingering just above the stage.
And that's odd to hear coming from me, as I'm a fairly straight-forward and realistic kind of guy. I don't usually express many emotions outside of what I share with my wife, and I think that sometimes I maybe don't even recognize them. But as I sat behind my massive tuba, I scanned the choir and I could read the expectation, the presence of something mighty, the sparkle of hope in their eyes.
During one of the day's events, one of the people sharing testimony seemed at a loss for words in what I think must have been her thirtieth time sharing it in front of people. In front her her were the better part of a thousand people, in various states of listening--some surely hanging on her words as they related to exactly what she was sharing. For a few moments, my brain didn't realize that her words had stopped, it just kept on going with her story that I'd now heard at least a dozen times. But suddenly it registered and I started praying for her words to be not hers, but His.
And suddenly I was struck with the realization that I had hope! It was an expectant hope, knowing that His strength could come upon her, guiding her to the words she needed. A few moments later she picked up and continued, mostly back on course.
It was a strange feeling for me, one very unfamiliar. As a Christian, I have hope, but rarely has it taken such an immediate, tangible form.
Through much of the rest of the program, I found myself lingering on that feeling, that I needed to be praying, in a hopeful manner, for God's provision. I'm not sure I heard the words of the songs, or even of the pastor as he spoke. My eyes were filled with with a haze making it difficult to see anything more than a few inches away. But it felt right. It felt real. God was there tonight.
That unfamiliar landscape hit my core, and it's going to take a while longer to understand it, so don't be surprised if hope makes a re-appearance in the future.