Open the window.

I’ve been doing some freelance writing this year for Waco Today. It’s nothing too spectacular, they’re always pretty straight forward pieces, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s great extra income. Plus it keeps me doing what I love, which is telling stories. Yesterday I was driving home from doing an interview for a story I’m working on, and as I was driving I started having this revelation of why I love what I do.

I love writing for magazines like Waco Today, because most often the stories are less hard news oriented and more feature-esque. And in a feature story, you’re normally highlighting something unique about a person or organization — some accomplishment, or some special skill, talent or gift. So I find that I really enjoy doing interviews for these stories, because most of the time I’m getting to talk to someone about the thing they love the most. That one thing that makes them come alive, that they could spend their entire lives doing and never grow weary of it.

And there’s something about talking to someone who has passion in their voice. It just rubs off on you. I have no desire to own a restaurant or sing in a barbershop quartet. I have never wanted to be a CEO or a governor. I wouldn’t dream of becoming an American Gladiator or the captain of a roller derby team. (Well OK, I might think about trying those two)

I’ve sat across a table from all of these people, though, and I’ve listened to the sounds of their souls pour out into a recorder — the stories from the purest places of hearts that I’ll somehow try to retell just as raw and beautifully as they made it sound the first time. And it doesn’t matter what they’re talking about, if I can feel the passion in the voice of someone who’s living out what they were made for, my heart beats a little faster. Maybe some of that is the fact that I know somehow their purpose is colliding with mine every time I get to tell one of their stories.

When I see people who know who they are operating in their giftings, I see a little glimpse of heaven come out of them. Because even if they don’t realize it, when someone does something out of a God-given place of giftedness, they are unlocking some small piece of heaven that they’ve been given authority over and access to on earth.

This is true of the culinary mastermind, who knows the glory of the wedding feast and can give us enough taste to satisfy our appetites for now.

It’s true of the vocalist who opens his mouth and somehow there’s a choir of angels singing from this one set of vocal chords.

It’s true in the strategic mind of a CEO who knows that heaven is anything but ordinary and every bit of extravagantly, intricately designed. And it’s true of the governor who hates injustice and is for the people, who values education and despises wastefulness because he knows the stewarding of such things will determine the longevity of the people and place he’s been given authority over.

It’s true of the gladiator and the rollergirl, who know the true meaning of running a race with endurance and disciplining yourself for the greater things.

When God makes us he puts some piece of himself inside of us that he intends for us to share with the rest of his children. I’ve heard it said before that our job is to open a window so that people can hear the sound of their true home.

What window do you open? What’s been put in you that gives you authority to access a special part of heaven — the part that only you have the keys to?

I think my window is the window to his goodness. I’m a storyteller. Do you know what happens when we tell stories? We remember what’s already happened. We cherish and we retell of the deeds of God because we need a reminder to propel us forward.

And if I retell of his deeds then it has to equate to revealing his goodness, because he is the author of all that is good. Every good thing comes from him. Every. Good. Thing.

So I keep letting strangers pour out their hearts to me, and I let their passion ignite my passion because this is how we move things in the spirit. And with every story told, the window that unleashes his goodness opens wider, and wider, and wider.

That’s my window. What’s yours?

A longing for eternity

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:

Image

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.