The world is a stage…and each of us plays a part.
That’s a line from the Elvis Presley song, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” One of my favorites. Granted he’s paraphrasing Shakespeare, but it needed to rhyme with “sweetheart” and so poetic license finds it’s place. The phrase never really meant too much to me until last month at a Hillsong United concert when a lightbulb went off for me in the middle of the show.
When I realized that I would actually be home when Hillsong United was going to be playing downtown Pittsburgh, I knew I needed to go. I couldn’t profess being a huge follower of their music, but what I’d heard, I’d really liked. I saw the concert as an opportunity to stand on the other side of the stage and spend an evening lost in the worship of my Lord and Savior. I wouldn’t be caught up in the euphoria of “Oh I love this song…Oh I love THIS song,” because, again, I was only familiar with three or four of them. I would have the opportunity to be caught up singing to my Jesus.
By the graciousness of some friends, my wife, Sarah, and I were able to spend some time with the band and Joel Houston before the concert started and before we were escorted to our seats (the front row of the second section back on the floor). What that meant was that there were two union security guards sitting 5 feet away from us…and facing us.
Each time there was a quiet moment in between songs, the guards saw it as an opportunity to catch up on their personal lives. Since Joel and the band were doing such a great job of creating a worshipful experience, it seemed like such a disruption. Add to that the awkward feeling you would experience if you were enjoying the presence of God on a Sunday morning in church, hands and voices raised in worship only to open your eyes and find a pair of security guards staring at you from 5 feet away. I was bothered. This was supposed to be my opportunity to worship in freedom. This was my opportunity to not be on the stage. However, in a manner of speaking, I was still on stage and I did not want to be!
The Spirit whispered to my spirit that maybe, by my worship, those guards may be led to fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (I Cor 14:25). So, I did my best to worship God with my all, regardless of the four peering eyes across from me. Then during the invitation that was given half way through the concert, a sinner’s prayer was read, followed by a request that all who prayed the prayer for the first time might raise their hands. After the prayer was finished, Sarah grabbed my neck and urgently whispered in my ear, “I have been praying for that older security guard all night and he just raised his hand that he prayed for salvation!” Tears immediately stung my eyes as I was convicted by my selfishness.
The rest of the night was an opportunity for me to praise my Lord with abandon, realizing that although I desired to worship the Lord away from the stage, I am always on stage.
I am on stage before my wife and my children at home when I grow impatient.
I am on stage with my parents and my brother when I feel free to speak my mind.
I am on stage around my friends when I act in a manner that is less than holy, comfortable in the fact that they are my ‘safe friends.’
I am on stage before my Lord and His Heavenly Host 24-7.
God is teaching me about integrity more deeply than I thought possible as it effects my realizing that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, everyone of us is on a stage and each of us plays a part.