Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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An Obstructed View


My view tonight
I just got home from seeing Andrew Peterson and friends perform the annual “Behold the Lamb of God” show at the Ryman.  Over the years, it has become part of my Christmas tradition to attend.  If you did not go tonight, you have another chance tomorrow.  Tickets are still on sale!

I go because I love the music.  But I also love the community.  I look on stage and I see several people I know and love, and I also run into so many friends in the audience.  Tonight I saw dozens of people who are part of my life.  

Sophie and I went together.  We had good seats, in the middle of the balcony.  Our seats got even better when we saw Matthew and Jordan.  They were sitting on the front row of the balcony and had two empty seats, which they passed on to us.  The music was wonderful and we could see and hear everything.  

This was not the case a few years ago.  I wrote a blog post in 2009 about my experience of having terrible seats at this same show.  I’m passing on part of that post to you tonight because I feel it speaks to the essential character of Advent.  

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I have intended to go to this concert for months.  However, I only bought my tickets a week ago.  Ticketmaster gave me their “best available seats,” warning me that I would have an obstructed view.  Given that it was these seats or nothing, I took them.

Obstructed view is a mild way of saying what we had.  Laura and I were on the floor, near the back of the room, as far to stage right as you could get.  From where I sat, I could see only the front portion of the stage, and even half of that was blocked by a huge stack of speakers.  I got to see Andrew Peterson and Andy Osenga, which was nice, but I basically didn’t see anyone else. I could hear Andy and Jill, Ben and Randy, but see them? Not a chance. 

The guy behind me was angrily telling his girlfriend how they “might as well have stayed home” and the “first thing I’m going to do tomorrow morning is call the ticket office.”  Me, on the other hand, well I just sat there and beamed and cried and sang along.  I was sitting with my beloved wife, hearing great music, “seeing” good friends move in the gifts God has given them, and having a great time.  Most importantly, I was hearing the grand story of the Gospel. No, I couldn’t see everything. But I could hear, and what I heard I loved. 

Sometimes I have an obstructed view of Christ. I can’t see him or what he’s doing.  Or I think I know what he’s up to, and then something knocks me for a loop.  I think I have things figured out, but then I am rudely awakened to the reality that I only see a small part of the stage, a fraction of the total picture.  I don’t have all the information, and neither does anyone else. 

I can’t always see God moving.  I don’t always experience him.  But I can always listen to his voice.  I can hear him in his Scriptures.  Things may not look so great from where I’m sitting, but there is always Truth available to me.  If I can put aside my indignation and anger for a minute, maybe I will even read something I need to hear. 

Having an obstructed view of Christ doesn’t mean he isn’t there. Andy Gullahorn was on that stage, though I saw him not.  So God is in the midst of my little life, whether I happen to be staring at him in the face or straining my neck to catch a glimpse of his shoe.