Ah, festival season. It truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year.
There aren’t many things I enjoy more than a good music festival. (Although there was that one time I almost met Jesus a tad early due to heat exhaustion at Bonnaroo — but that’s a story for another time.) There is just something about the blissful, carefree atmosphere of a festival. It draws my heart out in the best kind of way.
Thousands of people together, united under one purpose: for the love and fun of a great concert. Hula hoops spinning and ribbons twirling — a longing for childhood written all over myriads of adults who have escaped for a few days. Kites flying — a picture God so often speaks to me through. Embrace your child-like faith. You must be grounded to fly, but all you have to do is let out a little line at a time … and then you soar. It’s this mysterious relationship between us and the wind that creates such a phenomenon.
The breeze carries with it the smell of funnel cakes, corn dogs, and almost anything that can be fried and put on a stick. Along with, of course, a hint of body odor and beer. (Yum) Oh, but the scent of youthful delight far outweighs it — like a ribbon of purity left over from our childhood, woven in somewhere between all the ways we’ve polluted ourselves and our world along the way. There’s laughter and singing in the air, and the sound of music coming from every which direction.
In May of last year, I was at the Beale St. Music Festival in Memphis. The setting was perfect. A breezy, picturesque spring night, with the sun setting over the Mississippi River and an excellent line-up of Needtobreathe followed by Florence + the Machine. Just look at the beauty:
As I swayed and sang along to the music of some of my favorite bands with my best friends, watched as girls popped up on shoulders all over the place and American flags waved across the crowd, I started thinking…
There’s something beautiful happening here. People united, singing the same song, waving the flags of their nations and enjoying the glory of a sun that only a God who truly delights in us could have crafted. But it’s only a substitute of what we were really made for.
This longing in me to be in the carefree environment of a festival, enjoying the company of my closest friends and dancing and singing to the music I love most — God made that longing. And there’s a reason that when it ends and it’s time to go home, there’s a disappointment felt. Because the only thing that will satisfy that longing — which is really just a longing for eternity — will be the day I step on the shores of the new earth, into the glory that He created us for.
And there, I really believe it will be somewhat of a redeemed music festival. There will be people running, dancing, playing — hula hooping and ribbon twirling and flying kites — or perhaps just being kites.
Flags will be flying — the flags of every nation. And we will be singing the same song in unison — with every tribe, in every tongue. And the photo I snapped with my iPhone of the Memphis sunset won’t hold a candle to the glory of the light of His presence that we’ll be in when we get there.
I won’t stop going to festivals this side of Heaven, because they are one of my favorite pastimes. But I also won’t stop longing for the real thing — knowing that this is what I was made for. It’s what we were all made for.
Cheers to a season of loud music, dancing, and blissful adventures with the people we love most. If you’re a fellow fest-a-holic, may it be a reminder that nothing short of the glory of God we’re made for will ever satisfy. But have a blast nonetheless. You were made for it. May it increase your appetite for eternity, and may it spur you on to seek more of the open Heaven that’s promised to us here until He returns to take us all home. (Which, by the way, should also spur you on to be an evangelist in that environment — but that’s also a post for another time! 🙂 )
Happy Festival Season, my friends.