Driving home from a summer concert with both of my sons asleep in the back of the car, I felt free. Maybe it was because it's been a long time since I've been to a concert, maybe it was the summer scent blowing across fields of corn, or maybe it was the blaring rap music that reminded me my younger days when life was simple. Will Smith's Summertime echoed in my head. "Drums please, summer, summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind."
I've seen the Rolling Stones in Pittsburgh, Pearl Jam in Las Vegas, and Dave Matthews in California, but this small summer festival at the Shippensburg fairgrounds was special. The Uprise concert featured multiple stages and a eclectic mix of musical performances. Part of the day was spent with my sons and friends. The day was complete when my wife arrived at sunset. Looking back, I learned many great lessons that day.
First, the diversity of this concert must be some reflection of what heaven might be like. The band Red sounded very angry and awfully loud, yet they were singing (I use that word loosely) messages of hope. The headliner Lecrae, looked out into the minimally-diverse crowd and said, "ya'll look like a deer in headlights" and encouraged everyone to "get your peace signs up." The crowd began to bounce. Sanctus Real encouraged guys to man-up and show-up for their families. Unspoken had the crowd worshipping. Duck Dynasty's Uncle Si talked about Vietnam, I think. None of it seemed to fit neatly together. It was a diverse, messy, imperfect, beautiful group of people unified only in Christ. Just like heaven?
Next, it was encouraging to hear people in positions of influence talk vulnerably about their fears. Our culture touts emotionally-detached, success-driven, fearless stereotypes that don't exist. In the Lecrae song aptly named Fear, the rapper speaks of his own struggles with naming fear. "I'm scared if I confess it...That you gon' look at me like I'm something less... And I'm such a mess." Next, a woman speaks an insert in French. The translation, "It is he who is afraid to admit his fears and it is he who will not overcome them... we found the freedom in confession and freedom in the recognition." Great stuff that I want my kids to hold onto. The No Fear mantra is a myth. Boxing trainer Cus D'Amato told his protégé Tyson as much. "They both feel the same [fear], the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you feel." Naming and facing your fear is everything. Strength in weakness.
Finally, I was reminded that pausing to soak in the rays of life is what makes life worth living. In the heat of the day, KJ-52 had everyone crowded to the stage "jumping around" to remixed beats of rap classics. Picture five kids under the age of 10, hands raised, bouncing, dancing, and shouting "hip, hop, hooray... ho... hey... ho." Now picture the kids surrounded by their almost-40-year-old parents doing the same. Middle aged parents dancing to hip hop at a rap concert with their kids. It's only a few more years that the kids wouldn't be horrified by the thought. I'll take these moments as they're given. Laughing at ourselves, taking life a little less seriously, and laying on blankets at a summer concert festival surrounded by cornfields - this is life.