A Backstage Pass
by Alyssa Flaten
I remember several years back when Scott and I had the opportunity to play at Life Light in South Dakota. Because we were a band that was a part of the festival, we got backstage passes. I’m not one of those starstruck fans, but I’m not going to lie, it was pretty cool seeing bands up close and even meeting them. Being a violin and viola player, I especially enjoyed eating dinner with the violin player from the David Crowder Band. A friend of mine was begging to borrow my backstage pass so she could see (and maybe even touch) Jeremy Camp’s muscles (insert eye-roll here). I enjoyed that backstage pass because it gave me the opportunity to unabashedly hand out Scott’s CDs to national recording artists and brag on my husband. Yep, having that backstage pass made me feel important.
Meeting talented recording artists in the flesh is awesome, but you and I have an even greater opportunity every single day of our lives. We have a continual backstage pass to rub elbows with the most famous person in the world. We have access to Christ, to the presence of Jesus, and to the power of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 100:4 defines just what that backstage pass is: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” (Psalm 100:4 NIV) Thankfulness is the ticket to get backstage with God, to experience His presence. His peace. His joy. The Message version calls thankfulness a “password “to be with God and know His presence: “Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship Him.” (Psalm 100:4 MSG)
More often than not I “misplace” my backstage pass or forget that I even have it. I sit moping and complaining about this or that. My perspective gets all out of whack. I complain that I just don’t feel God in my life. Or I think the pass to experience God and all His goodness is to try harder, do more for His kingdom, to be a better person, a better spouse or a better mother. Or I think I need to attend an amazing worship service…or if only I worked with more (or some) Christian people…or if this wasn’t happening right now, or if this would happen…the list goes on; meanwhile all of these excuses distract me from engaging in thankfulness and in turn, keep me from going backstage with God. I create a long list of false backstage passes all the while forfeiting the opportunity to have dinner with Jesus.
As a mama of two little girls, I have less opportunities to play on the worship team, less uninterrupted hours of quiet time, and I seem to have more messes to clean and laundry to wash. As I look at my season of life and its circumstances, I often choose to complain and grumble, sometimes out loud, and sometimes under my breath or in my heart. But I am learning to recognize that my circumstances are not what keeps me from God’s presence. When I get in a funk with little to be thankful for and much to worry about, that anxiety and unthankfulness becomes my focus. The Bible calls the things that consume our focus idols. Yikes! “Those who pay regard to false, useless, and worthless idols forsake their own [Source of] mercy and loving-kindness.” (Jonah 2:8 Amplified) Complaining is useless, worthless, and keeps me focused on the “false”. But as for the “Source of mercy and loving-kindness”–that’s Who I want more of, that’s Who I want to be with.
Developing a thankful attitude is a habit that takes time. It’s a choice. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
Science gives us some practical application of how to follow the wisdom of the Bible in cultivating a thankful heart. According to Jim Fannin, a sports psychologist, the last 30 minutes and first 30 minutes of each day are when our “minds are naturally amenable to suggestion” (http://www.jimfannin.com/super/83-life/385-the-greatest-valentine-s-day-gift#.U0v1mceY3XQ). And the last 30 minutes of each waking day is replayed in our minds 15 to 17 times which is five times more than any other thought at any other time. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Positive-Dog-Story-Positivity/dp/0470888555) So bedtime is a key time to practice thankfulness and according to science it will help you start the following day with a thankful heart. Try it out for yourself! When the weather has got you down, or the events of the week, take time to tell God all the things you are thankful for, or write them down just before you hit the pillow. So when things don’t go as we hoped, or when we wake up to snow in April, we can pass right by the temptation to complain and go backstage into the love, joy, peace, and trust we find in Jesus.
So today, enter into His house with a thankful heart–it’s your backstage pass to the abundant life Christ has for us.