The Ultimate Backstage Pass

10:38 AMHeather

Just imagine your favorite singer or musical group.  Picture yourself at their concert, in the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.  There you are -- in that gorgeous and impressive venue.  You have been looking forward to this concert for weeks on end and paid a premium to get there.  There's an excitement in the air as everyone anticipates the experience to come.  

Finally, the announcer lets you know that the concert is about to start.  The drumbeat swells and the music starts to crank up. Your stomach churns and you grab your camera--eager to capture the wonder of this experience, willing it to last beyond the next couple of hours. 

They take the stage and head to the microphone.  Oh, you are so ready for this!

Then, they ask that the music stop as they grab the microphone.  Um, WHAT?  What is going on?  

They explain that they have someone THEY want to meet and will that person come up to the stage to be part of a VIP experience, going backstage after the concert for a one-on-one meet and greet.

 Geez.  Lucky duck, you think.  Envy coursing through your veins for whomever the lucky fan is. You can already taste the bitterness in your mouth towards whomever that person is.

Then you nearly drop to the floor when your name is called out and the camera pans to your face.  You see your face appear on that enormous jumbotron and it's incredibly surreal.  Arms are grabbing toward you as the security team is taking you to the stage, explaining what all is about to unfold.  

It's a euphoria like you've never experienced.  YOU?  Get to meet THEM?  You get to take some photos together and have a conversation.  What will you say?  You're nervous and excited and nauseous.  Really nauseous.

You sit, front and center, numbed by the shock of it all, until the concert is over.  You are then escorted backstage and your mouth nearly hits the floor as the musician calls you by name.  After a foolish and awe-inspired stumble, you manage to begin a conversation.  And just when you thought it can't get ANY better, he (or she?) asks if they can come hang out at your house with you.  Form a friendship and stay in touch.  They just want to stay connected with you, asking for your phone number.  Maybe they'll even friend you on Facebook or follow you on Instagram?  Announce to the world that they are your friends, validating the relationship.  

It's just too much.  You cannot. Even. Believe. It.

Oh, yes.  Can you even imagine?  For me, this might happen with Steven Curtis Chapman or Mark Schultz or Casting Crowns.  Maybe Harry Connick Junior?  For my daughter, it'd be Taylor Swift.  Who would it be for you?  In your wildest dreams? I know a lot of you went to see One Direction this past Sunday night.

Think on it for a minute.  Picture the scene.  The smells.  The sights.  The sounds.  How would your life change if that famous someone became your personal friend?  Maybe even sharing their resources with you?  

Well, listen up, bloggy friends.  I have a news flash for you.

The God of the Universe, the one Who Created All That is From Nothing, the One who conquered sin and death, the Almighty himself...HE knows you by name.  Not only that, he invites you in.  He wants you to draw near.  He wants to be intimately connected to you.

Even better, he offers us some mind numbing news with some bold statements from Scripture.  The kind of news that might throw a glimpse of sunlight into your darkest, darkest days.

For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me upon a rock.
Psalm 27:5

Listen, in times of suffering or confusion or despair, we follow Mary's lead. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  We deliberately stay at his feet, just as we do in our day to day.

We abide with our Savior. 

Abide--continue, remain, stay, dwell, reside 

We dwell with our God.  

dwell--live, stay, linger, ponder in thought, wait for

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

You see, in the Old Testament, we see that God poured out his favor on the Israelites by DWELLING among them.  When we dwell in his shadow, we find rest. 

It goes way beyond any VIP package with backstage passes for some rock star.  

Exodus 25-26 shows us the very elaborate instructions for the dwelling place that the Israelites were to build for God.  This is where GOD himself would linger and show up to his chosen people.  No thrown together shack was going to do.  God was quite specific in how it was to be build and arranged in order to become his dwelling place.

Exodus 29 offers detailed instructions for the priests.  These were tedious and specific so that those who entered his dwelling place within the tabernacle were properly prepared and ready for such interaction.  It was an awe-inspiring, fearsome thing to be tapped for such an intimate encounter.

Check out Exodus 29:42-43 and 45 or Exodus 33:13-17 and Leviticus 26:11-13.  Numbers 35.  Deuteronomy 12, 14, 16, and 26.

Indeed.  The Old Testament passages clearly emphasis the awe and wonder of the privilege of God dwelling among his people. 

God dwelling with his people was a big deal.  It was sacred.

How we belittle this fact like some cliche and ignore the very hope that it represents.  That the God who parted seas, defeated giants, shut the mouths of lions, raised the dead to life, paid the ultimate price for our forever freedom...that same God dwells among us.

And not just among us...within us.  

Can you even wrap your brain around that truth when you really stop and consider what it means?  He who, above every other name and all else--he says, I want to make you mine.  I want to be your Abba Father.  I want to walk through every moment with you.  I want you to know me.  I want to hang out with you.  I, in fact, am going to make my home within you through my Holy Spirit.

Oh that we would not take this for granted.  That we would learn the sacred practice of being sure we dwell in his shadow, as Psalm 91 says.  That we would take full advantage of this incredible privilege our God gives us.

Being in someone's shadow implies a closeness.  A lack of distance.  A deliberate and intentional choice to stay near.

When the worst thing happens...we throw ourselves at his feet.  We mourn and weep and wail and pitch our tent in his shadow.  

That we would rail and rant if necessary.  

But follow Mary's example after her brother died, and prostrate ourselves humbly, pouring out our deepest emotions honestly.

There, in that type of no holds barred disclosure with God about how we really feel, we can slowly gain traction.  He knows our feelings anyway.  That we would just come out with it and acknowledge it and let that type of authenticity forge more intimacy.

As we dwell with him.  Remembering that he weeps with us.  He holds us, and he holds the universe.  And he will indeed hold us together.  Through huge storms of life and daily irritations.

Listen, he knows that no threat on this earth can separate us from his love and eternal presence.  Yet he still weeps with us.  Because of his great love and affection for us.  

And he promises to be closer than a heartbeat.  Because he who spun the world in motion with just a word from his mouth...beyond any celebrity and any fame or fortune...he chooses to pitch his tent with you.  He invites you to draw near.  He has, in fact, engraved your name in his palm (Isaiah 49:16).

May we realize that it is no small wonder that the great I Am calls us by name and enters our every worry, disappointment and heartache.

And he made a way to conquer it all.

May we never lose a sense of awe and wonder that he dwells with us.

Amen and amen.  Let us dwell in his shadow.

Blog post #11 in a series:  Sabbath Living:  Sitting at the Feet of Jesus.

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