Last year I was in Jerusalem. We toured the city and saw the “Holy” places, stood in long lines and bought Shofars. It was brilliant. Then they took us to see mount Zion.
I’m sure you’ve all heard songs and stories that talk about going “up” to Zion? And that’s probably because the crusaders didn’t really like where the real Zion was so they called another higher hill mount Zion. Confusing? Absolutely.
But on our trip our guide was a bit of a Bible scholar and did a fab job of pointing out that when it came time to go to Zion we were actually descending. He showed us the mount of olives and graves purchased there by wealthy Christian people hoping to be raised from the dead first when Christ returns.
He also mentioned that the place God chose to symbolize a place of holiness and worship was a place you needed to descend to. You had to leave the mount of olives, the ancient walls of the Temple Mount and go down to the low place. The place man doesn’t esteem but God does. The place of anointing was low down, almost unnoticeable and out of sight. In fact the only people looking up to Zion were the people in the valley. And Zion was where the water source and well spring of life was.
As an artist I’ve played many prestigious shows and opened for folks like Elvis Costello and Chuck Berry. The trajectory of every artist is targeted toward the high place of prominence and notoriety. And artists often feel like failures if they are not seen to be “successful”. The obsession with self promotion and increasing your profile is drilled into every hopeful wishing to scale the heights of the public eye in the Christian and mainstream worlds. But.
I recently played an event. My name was not on any poster and the slots I was allocated were guaranteed to ensure I would play to around 10% of capacity. As an experienced musician I was well aware of the humility and lack of status associated with my allocated slots. Many other artists occupied much higher profile places and were afforded greater opportunities to be “noticed.” It was depressing and I felt humiliated because I feared I’d lost status.
I think for any artist it’s a painful experience to play in large venues to relatively small numbers. But something about these low profile places gave me the courage to tackle both sets on my own without a band. One of slots was so early in the day there wasn’t even a person to put up lyrics and I only had three minutes to soundcheck after waiting an hour and a half. It was hard.
But as painful as the circumstances were, there was something very honest about the music I played. Each note was like a prayer and each chord a sacrifice. In fact the slot with the least honor was by far and away the most powerful of the two. The atmosphere was thick and full of the presence and lives were impacted. Including mine.
Was the lack of honor a factor? Were the pain and humiliation necessary ingredients? Was the worship more authentic because it was a decision to declare God is good in the face of opposite circumstances?
Fire does indeed fall on sacrifice.
I was reading a book called the Forgotten Way. In this book I’m reminded that I’m a chosen beautiful son of the most powerful being alive and I sit with Him in the courts of heaven at His banqueting table, celebrating the joy of being completely His. With this inheritance it’s not possible to be second class or humiliated by a perceived loss of status: there’s simply the reality that I am His beloved, I am not another. I am His beloved and He is well pleased with me.
As my daughter said “Perhaps God is more comfortable with our suffering than we are?” But there’s also much less pain and it can get a hold over you much less when you realize who you are and who’s you are.
He’s the lion of Judah.
He’s not a tame lion
He’s not a caged lion
He’s my and your Dad.
Be not afraid. He has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise.
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